UP targets Final 4 spot in UAAP Season 78-A A +A
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
IS THE University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, who recently snapped a two-year losing streak, contented with the goal of shedding the team's cellar-dweller image in the UAAP men's basketball tournament?
Ask businessman Dan Palami, the man in charge of revving up the state-funded squad.
"Our goal is to enter the Final Four next year because UP is the host next year. We need to do better," he told reporters late Tuesday night.
UP, whose first and only championship came in 1986, last made it to the Final Four in 1997, the longest semifinal drought among UAAP's eight member schools.
And to break that dry spell, Palami said they are looking forward to more skills trainings and entry of some players who will be eligible in time for Season 78.
Palami has been credited for turning the men's national football team Azkals from Southeast Asian minnows into top contenders in the region in just a few years, coughing up money for recruitment of Europe-based Filipino booters and skilled foreign coaches and international exposure of homegrown players.
Now that he has a chance to duplicate in his alma mater what he has achieved with the Azkals, Palami said they may tap Fil-foreign talents to beef up the UP line-up, admitting that "somebody" has been sent abroad for this purpose.
"I think that's the story," he said, eliciting laughter from the press.
"It's not magic, it's just hardwork and we want to make sure that we get a strong team, recruitment and proper organization. It takes awhile, especially you're working on the limits of the UAAP rules and school rules. I expect that," Palami said.
More than snapping a 27-game losing skid at the expense of Adamson University last Saturday, the Maroons' manager was happy that the UP community has come together to believe in the team again.
Support came in the form of bags and shoes for the players, which Palami took as a sign of the UP faithful "waking up" from years of slumber.
"Once we unite, then it's going to be a force to reckon with. It would then be easy for us to mobilize support for basketball as well as for the other teams (competing in the UAAP)," he said.
Palami also addressed comments on social media scoffing at UP's bonfire celebration following its sensational win.
Some say the fiery merry-making was too much, knowing that bonfires are only being conducted by schools which bag a championship, like in the case of Quezon City neighbor Ateneo de Manila University, the league's men's basketball leader for five straight years from 2008.
"Maybe if other schools did the same, that would be considered OA (overacting) but there's a certain culture in UP that only us can understand. And for me, personally, what's wrong with celebrating the end of a 27-game losing streak?" he said.
"There will always be people who find something wrong in what you do. It's how you take those criticisms that matter," Palami said. "They don't matter at all."
UP is hoping to pick up one or two more wins this season. (Sunnex)