By Waylon Galvez
(Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City)
2 p.m. – NU vs UE
4 p.m. – FEU vs Adamson
Of all the accomplishments veteran mentor Bo Perasol had in his coaching career, guiding University of the Philippines back to the Final Four after 21 long agonizing years ranks the highest.
That’s understandable since it’s personal for the former Fighting Maroon.
“It has become a personal burden for me to deliver for the UP community,” said Perasol yesterday when contacted by The Bulletin. “It was so overwhelming for me, after all these years.”
Perasol was in tears when UP claimed an outright semifinal berth following an impressive 97-81 win over De La Salle last Wednesday in the 81st UAAP men’s basketball at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
UP’s victory gave the school an 8-6 record at the end of its elimination round campaign, tied with DLSU but because of a superior quotient, the Maroons clinched the No. 3 spot in the Final Four next week.
Perasol took over UP’s coaching post in May 2, 2016 after spending the previous three seasons with Ateneo. Perasol initially coached Air21 and Cola-Cola/PowerAde – both PBA defunct teams – from 2005 to 2012 in the PBA, as well as the UPIS basketball team in 2003.
In Perasol’s first season, UP missed the playoffs as it finished tied for fifth and sixth with National University with similar 5-9 cards. The team improved its record to 6-8 but still missed the Final Four – half game behind a playoff game for fourth with 7-7 Far Eastern University.
Prior to this season, basketball observers placed UP as among the Final Four favorites after their training in Serbia – thanks to the support of Gov. Jonvic Remulla, , J.J. Atencio, 3M, Robinson’s Supermarket,Handyman and Mighty Sports through Caesar Wongchuking.
And the Maroons didn’t disappoint as they came through with that virtuoso performance against the Green Archers.
Brother Juan and Javy Gomez de Liaño – personally recruited by Perasol during the previous two seasons – played big off the bench as the former fired 27 points, while the latter added 19 points.
“It’s a good thing that they see progress with the program, meaning good results. The support and excitement (from students and alumni) comes from the fact the there is progress with what we are doing,” said Perasol, who steered Mighty Sports to a grand sweep of the Jones Cup two years ago in Taiwan.
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