In the world of vivid colors, exciting play and survival of the fittest—otherwise known as the UAAP—maroon stands for the Fighting Maroons, the collegiate men’s varsity team of the University of the Philippines Diliman.
That sentence alone can turn enthusiastic smiles into frowns of disappointment. The truth is, in recent years, UP has not been known for its basketball program. It’s been ages since Benjie Paras, aka The Tower of Power, led the Maroons to the UAAP championship crown in 1986.
Now, in UAAP season 76, coach Ricky Dandan admitted that the Fighting Maroons are in a rebuilding stage. The team has eight newcomers who are either transferees or under-the-radar recruits. As such, it is not eyeing to be a contender in the games all that much.
Instead, the team will focus on establishing and polishing the rough edges of its young players.
Ask anyone, and he would say that he is expecting UP to finish last again this year. There is a slim chance for UP to raise its rank, considering its history and current team status. Even Iskolars ng Bayan themselves admit that their basketball team is not the strongest one in town, nor would it have any chances of winning. They have learned to accept that basketball is not their crowning glory.
But then again, this is the state university being discussed here. UP has produced presidents, chief justices, senators, communist and Moro rebel leaders, physicians, writers, artists, and even an intelligent beauty queen architect.
Not its strength
Basketball may not be its strength, but it has so many more hands that make this country grow and move forward. Come to think of it, Harvard University has produced more presidents than NBA players, and it is still one of the top universities in the world.
As for the UP Fighting Maroons and its fans, this season would hopefully not go to waste. This year we might see the development of the future stars of UP basketball.
If they buck the odds, Fighting Maroons will have nowhere else to look but up.