We are finally back. UAAP Season 84 is upon us and I can’t wait to finally represent our beloved University again. We have been through so much these past couple of years but we finally made it. Two years is a long time and the team is eternally grateful for continuing to support us throughout the quarantine, the roster changes, and the upcoming season ahead. The team is excited about what’s in store for this season and we can’t wait to make the UP community proud.
I would think the theme for this season would be “starting fresh.” We came off two years of being in a pandemic and the landscape is very different now. Two batches have graduated in UP, several of my former teammates are in professional leagues, and a new crowd that for sure will still have the Fighting Maroon energy. It still feels weird to be playing collegiate basketball in an empty arena but we will soon get there.
We had a very experienced team back in Season 82 with championship aspirations. We also had to stay in shape with home workouts and visits to the gym when allowed just to stay sharp. Our other teammates have already moved on to their professional careers and props to them. Kobe, Bright, Juan, and all—I hope you are doing well in your respective paths. This year everyone will be starting from scratch and the thrill of just playing pure basketball is a bliss that is unmatched like no other.
This current set of Fighting Maroons will have a bond like no other. We have so many rookies on the team and we are essentially getting our on-court chemistry through practice scrimmages. The team has been so grateful that the government and the school admin have allowed us to start practicing as early as January in a bubble and that has been the best preparation the team needed physically and mentally.
I’d be lying if I did not say that everything feels weird at the moment. We do not have preparation tournaments to get us into game shape, crowds are not in the arena, and scouting reports will be much different given everyone stepped on a UAAP hardcourt more than two years ago. If there is anything the pandemic taught me, it’s that adjustment and adapting to your surroundings are the key principles to surviving this stretch. We cannot have everything our way but this is actually an opportunity for us to grow as players and humans.
Personally, there have been a lot of changes in me, the basketball player, coming into this season. I was focusing on the defensive side of the floor in Season 82 with the rest of my star teammates taking the shots. This season will be interesting as I will have to take the leadership role with my other older teammates and show the young guys how to play at this level. Being a mentor, leader, and role model will be a different challenge for me, but that just means that I will have to step up my game on both sides for us to have a shot at the title.
My team and my coaches definitely have a big say on my decision to stay and the extent of the preparations we are doing in Season 84. There were a lot of offers, locally and internationally, but the bond in the UP community just pulled me back to try and win a championship for them. Everyone stuck by me during our highs and lows as a team, so it was just deserving that I give them a shot in experiencing men’s basketball glory on the other side of Katipunan—Zav, Daniel, Anton, and all. Coach Goldwin, it’s time to win a championship.
I know this is just the start but I can’t wait to see everyone again. I really missed the whole vibe of UAAP games so I’m excited to see all my co-athletes, the media personnel, and all you fans. A lot of uncertainty coming into the season, but that just makes it more interesting as we slowly opened up everything in the country. We are eternally grateful for your support wherever you are catching UAAP games. Please remember that we want to put on a show, playing the sport that we all love, to make our community proud. I can not wait to see everyone soon in the arenas and charge on!
With peace and love,
(As told to Kyle Reiner Pineda; cover photo by Vyn Radovan)