Can the underdog beat the big shots?
A lot will say yes.
So can the UP Fighting Maroons defeat the other teams come Round 2 of the UAAP?
A lot will say no.
But who cares about the “lot” anyway?
If you want answers ask these three guys:
Mikee Reyes. Mark Juruena. Moriah Gingerich.
The three most veteran players of the UP Fighting Maroons carry with them more than just the battle scars of past defeats. They’re not merely survivors of multiple winless seasons. And surely they’re not just the hapless victims of criticisms thrown against a team that perennially inhabits the cellar of the standings.
They are witnesses.
Witnesses of a time when the underdogs prevailed over the champs.
Flashback: UAAP Season 72. The Maroons were coming off a 3-11 record from last year. They endured a 0-14 record two years earlier. They were entering the season as losers of their last three games of the previous one.
A little bit fast-forward: the fourth game of the season. Guess who the Maroons were playing…
The Ateneo Blue Eagles.
And how much of a giant was Ateneo? Well, just the previous year they won their first championship under the tutelage of Norman Black. And on their roster were players like Rabeh Al-Husseini, Nonoy Baclao, Jai Reyes, Eric Salamat, and Chris Tiu. Coming into the game against UP, they haven’t lost for six straight games since last season. UP, on the other hand, had lost six straight.
The team on top of the food chain versus the bottom dweller–get the picture.
It seemed the Eagles would have its way against the Maroons.
As it turns out, UP would pull the biggest upset of that season.
Here’s a look back to that game:
But that didn’t end there. On that same season, UP outlasted the DLSU Green Archers. Mikee Reyes knows and remembers this game very well.
Together with their win over NU, UP won only 3 games that season. By reason of point differential, UP dropped to 8th spot that season. Ateneo won their back-to-back championship that season. La Salle was ousted of the Final Four for the first time in the Franz Pumaren era.
Just so you know, ADMU’s record was 13-1 that season. The one blemish they endured came from UP.
Just so you know, DLSU’s record was 5-9 that season. The one loss that cost them the Final Four slot came from UP.
That’s right. From the 8th seeded UP Fighting Maroons.
And Juruena, Reyes and Gingerich were there.
So if you ask them, they’d most definitely say yes.
That underdogs can slay giants