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Lito A. Tacujan (The Philippine Star) - October 31, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Could it be some karmic justice?

Sometimes tragic events or misdeeds in the past have a way of manifesting themselves at present.

They may not come in macabre forms, but horrific enough to haunt those liable or responsible for them.

Take the airless, joyless 0-to-12 of the UST Growling Tigers in the 80th season of the UAAP.

While the Ateneo Blue Eagles are leading the pack with a scintillating 12-0 winning run, the Tigers are grudgingly doing the perfect sweep in reverse- 0 -to- 12 or 0- to-14 if their luck won’t change in the last two weeks.

Uncalled-for remarks against anything Thomasian are more grating, scathing and irritating in the confines of the UAAP. 

Winless. Nada por nada. Zilch.

Mention the team and a barrage of disparaging words would leap out in a blink…Crawling Tigers, Rolling Tigers, Growing Tigers.

“As if they’ve waited all their life for this one chance,” said a UST alumna of their detractors.

The remarks would singe any UST fan and makes you wonder if he or she deserves the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that befell the team.

Winless, joyless.

Perhaps we had it coming for some of the misdeeds in the past, testing the integrity of the game and the credibility of the personas in the drama.

Who would ever forget the disappearing act of its ace players in the title match against FEU in 2015 or the ill-advised jumper by Aljon Mariano despite the frantic imploring’s by Jeric Teng to give him the ball for the possible title winning play at endgame in 2013.

No Growling Tiger wanted to win it. Hence the gods of the league must have ruled, with righteous condemnation that if you didn’t want it, so be it and instead gave them 0-to -12 or a impending 0-to -14 at the close of the event.

A card of 0-to-12. It’s like being hit by a runaway truck somewhere in the Batasan road. It’s like being inflicted by a moral thrust in the psyche that left you scarred and scared for life.

It pains one to hear veteran Marvin Lee wonder  whether they could steal one win before the curtains fell on the season and find some solace before  the next campaign.

Why the outcry on this unnerving slump? Surely others suffer just as bad like the National U Bulldogs during their lean, hungry years before SM’s Hans Sy turned them to menacing attack dogs.

Or the UP Maroons who gave depth and breadth to the word “fighting” long before coach Bo Perasol discovered Paul Desiderio.

For one, the Growling Tigers have the DNA of true champs, having won 18 UAAP titles, the most by any school matched only by UE. They enjoyed their glory run from 1993-97 with a cluster of four straight titles behind the likes of Dennis Espino and Rey Evangelista.

It was one shining moment for the ever-royal and pontifical school. But whatever happened in the intervening years?

The moneyed and generous alumni of other schools came and turned the recruiting process for potential players into tremendous bidding war. 

Remember Alyssa Valdez, the volley-belle par excellence from Ateneo? She was a gangling teener in high school uniform at UST.

Then telecom top honcho MVP entered the fray and became the Blue Eagles’ No. 1 booster. Industrialist Danding Cojuangco sustained his love for the sport by bankrolling La Salle’s program. UP got a big assist from Dan Palami, the amiable manager of the Azkals, while Hans Sy reportedly ordered his men to offer any family members job at any SM Mall of their choice to rein in some strapping young ballers.

These varsity kids also wizened up on the ways of the world and signed up with player agents.

Meanwhile, Santo Tomas, that grand old man of the UAAP bravely held on to their Tigers, some barely earning their stripe with little help from its alumni.

They have no big-time godfathers to call on, no employment and regular jobs to offer on some state-of-the-art malls.

Nada. Nothing.

Perhaps this one busy corner at the densely populated Sampaloc district where the UST campus is located could help out but the owners of the Dangwa flower shops may decline the offer.

Not with a 0-to-12 card. Indeed, it’s grey November on this All Souls Day.

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