Make Or Break Season for UP Fighting Maroons
As the 73rd Season of the UAAP opens on July 10, the bets are off for the teams that are seen to make it to the top half of the list.
So far, hardly anyone is betting on the UP Fighting Maroons.
For one good reason perhaps–they are last season’s cellar dwellers. While they managed to be the only team that defeated the eventual champions of the previous season, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, that one win hardly made any dent as to the over-all performance of the team. That remarkable win was eclipsed by their 11 other losses, most of which were close ones. The three wins that UP posted for that season were close ones as well. It was the win over Ateneo that was most convincing of the other 2 victories, over NU and La Salle. Other than that, UP closed the season as nondescript.
This season, UP has no more excuses to offer, if they end up again at the bottom of the totem pole.
They have the most number of hold-overs from last season, with 11, making them the most veteran of the teams. They finished decently at the FilOil Flying V with a first quarterfinal appearance in 3 years, bowing out to the FEU Tamaraws. They spent the remainder of the summer training at the US. They had some good sponsors that got them there, and even had some time with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute that helped conditioned their bodies for the opening game two weeks from now. This is also Aboy Castro’s 3rd season, the projected time in which he would have established a strong system that will rescue them from the 8th spot in the list.
All that, however, remains untested.
Come opening day, the Maroons will have a chance to make a statement against the very hosts of this season, DLSU. The Archers are under the new tutelage of Dindo Pumaren, brother of the former La Salle tactician Franz. While this is Dindo’s first season as head coach with La Salle, this is his 6th over-all as bench strategist in the league. He is the most veteran among the coaches, together with Norman Black, who is mentoring the team they are most rivaled with, Ateneo. UP opens the season, and a win at opening day against the host team is a very big boost to their bid to elevate to the top half of the hierarchy.
Of course, the other seven teams did their own individual assignments in suiting up for what is foreseen as a free-for-all season. That is why, as early as now, three teams are already being dubbed as the eventual contenders for the title. A lot of teams lost their marquee players for this season, while some newbies were already dismembered as early as their first year.
UP, by far, is the most intact, if not one among the most intact, of key and role players coming into the league. Perhaps the only two other teams rostered stronger than UP is Ateneo and FEU, as far as hold-overs of starters and key players off the bench are concerned. UP only has five rookies, two of them were star players in their own rights coming off their junior season. These new players, however, need more time to mature their game and establish a consistent outing for all fourteen atrocities they will face this season.
As for Coach Aboy Castro, this might be his final season to rack up a decent performance for the Maroons. A dismal performance this season might spell the end of the journey for him with UP. Unless otherwise the administration of UP thinks he can still coach for another couple of years regardless of what comes out of this season, Coach Aboy must lead his team to convince that he deserves to draw the tactics for the Maroons.
This season, it’s make or break for the UP Fighting Maroons.