MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines coach Goldwin Montverde is proud that the No-Die-Die Maroons have never succeeded in ending the school’s 36-year-old UAAP title drought at this difficult time.
UAAP Season 84 ended Atenio’s three-season reign by hitting the JD Cagulangan Championship-Clinching Triple to dramatically win 72-69 in extra time in Game Three of the men’s basketball final.
Fighting Maroon, led by Cagulangan, Finals MVP Malik Diouf, Season 84’s top rockers Carl Tamayo, Ricky Rivero and CJ Cansino, made history by winning the school’s third title at this unprecedented time in a bubble environment.
“We are in an unprecedented season. Players need to play and practice every day in the middle of the game. They’ve made a lot of sacrifices since December, away from their families because of our bubble training, “said Montevarde, who has been UP’s first crown since 1986 after being handed over his first season as head coach.
“It’s really great for me to be able to endure this kind of situation at their age. I’m really, really proud of what we’ve achieved this season,” he added.
Stopping their mentally-challenging bubble training that began in December last year, the Fighting Maroons started the season on the wrong foot, losing to the Blue Eagles on the opening day. But they avoided a slow start and went on to win eight games – their most drawn win since 2004 – behind the rise of Javier Lucero as the leader of the top two figures in the first round.
It was snapped by Adamson but Montverde used that push as a wake-up call and ended the still-second elimination, with Ateneo’s 39-game winning streak halting his flight to the final and moving the post-season to the regular Final Four format.
UP lost the first game to La Salle, losing a double-bit advantage but could not stop Tamayo’s heroism in the do-or-die semifinal game after clearing a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit on the way to the final. To set a final date with Ateneo.
For each game, win or loss, Montverde insisted on his wards to learn regardless of the result.
From all those matches, including their last three wins in rear fashion, the multi-title high school coach believes Maroon’s greatest lesson is to never give up that they can apply to life beyond basketball.
“I guess’ dealing with stress … if you make the right choice in this kind of situation, you will (succeed) if you do not give up,” he said. “It’s not just about basketball. We can take our lessons later this season and apply them to our lives. ”
In Montverde, the only coach who has recorded a 3-2 win over Atenio’s Tab Baldwin at UAAP, he could be a soft-spoken man. But his heart cries out for how proud he is for the Fighting Maroons to deny adversity.
“There are no words to express what I am feeling now. Sometimes I like this, out of words. But deep down in my heart. I am very happy, ”he said.
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