The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons has ended 36 years of title drought after winning in spectacular fashion the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 84 Men’s Basketball Championship crown in May 2022.
UP claimed the bragging rights for the Kings of Katipunan and UAAP Kings monikers from defending champion Ateneo de Manila University as the Diliman squad executed another epic overtime battle in the UAAP Finals Game 3 held at the SM MOA Arena in Pasay City on Friday night, May 13.
The ball club from the Philippines’ premier state university broke the sports dynasty of its private university neighbor who reigned over the league and was aiming for a four-peat win.
The UP Fighting Maroons claimed its historic victory against the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 72-69, during the extra period after Joel Diomar “JD” Cagulangan in Jersey #13 sunk a 3-pointer to break the 69-all tie with .5 seconds left in the game. Cagulangan was later awarded Player of the Game.
Here’s the winning shot by JD Cagulangan:
The game went into overtime after Crispin John “CJ” Cansino’s triple ended the regulation period at 59-all, to the excitement of the 15-thousand plus fans watching in the arena and the millions around the world watching on television and on various platforms.
Here’s CJ Cansino making the basket that forces the game to go into overtime:
The low-scoring game showcased the defensive skills of both teams as they traded stops and runs. UP had led the first half, ending the first quarter, 17-11, and the second quarter, 31-27. Ateneo’s third-quarter rally gave it a one-point edge, 46-47, going into the fourth quarter.
See the Game 3 highlights here:
The legendary Maroons community which had accompanied the team in its journey, applauded the crew, erupted in jubilation, and proudly sang the school anthem, the UP Naming Mahal, with raised clenched fists and determined voices after a barrage of “U-P-Fight” and “U-nibersidad ng Pilipinas” chants rang through the arena.
The victory also gave the state university its third title since the games were founded in 1938. The UP Fighting Maroons shared the 1939-40 Men’s Championship title with Far Eastern University and the University of Santo Tomas.
The state university squad last held the crown 36 years ago in October 1986 at the expense of the University of the East Warriors, in a 98-89 triumph over the two-time defending champions in games held at the ULTRA (now PhilSports Arena) in Pasig City.
The UP squad, bannered by the pre-Philippine Basketball Association legends Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, and Eric Altamirano with Coach Joe Lipa at the helm, were buoyed by the massive crowds who had among them the veterans of the 1986 EDSA People Power and 1971 Diliman Commune student-led resistance to the Marcos government.
JOURNEY TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Game 3 was already the 5th meeting between the Number 1 and Number 2-ranked varsity teams in Season 84.
In the elimination rounds, the unbeaten Blue squad expectedly won the season opener first game against the Maroons on March 26.
UP afterward shocked the unbeaten Ateneans in the second game on May 1 with a major upset that stopped the Jesuit-run university’s 39-game winning streak since 2018.
Their third faceoff in Season 84 was the eventful Game 1 of the Finals Series when UP made its huge comeback to force the game to overtime and eventually came away with an 81-74 solid victory.
Ateneo made adjustments in their fourth game on May 11 and came away winners, 69-66, to stop UP from taking the crown that the Blue Eagles had won a total of 11 times – three successive wins since 2017, five times from 2008 to 2013, another in 2002, and successive wins in 1987 and 1988.
The Ateneo win forced the winner-take-all battle on May 13 which UP won with Coach Goldwin Monteverde at the helm.
Malick Diouf was declared the Most Valuable Player of the Finals Series while Carl Tamayo was earlier named Rookie of the Year.
UP 72 – Diouf 17, Cansino 14, Cagulangan 13, Rivero 9, Alarcon 8, Tamayo 6, Spencer 5, Lucero 0, Abadiano, Fortea 0.
Ateneo 69 – Belangel 27, Kouame 12, Mamuyac 10 Koon 6, Verano 5, Lazaro 5, Ildefonso 2, Tio 2, Andrade 0, Daves 0, Chiu 0.
The Season 84 matchups recalled the Battle of Katipunan rivalry between the two teams that was last seen in Season 81 when the fabled Maroons crew of Paul Desiderio, and brothers Juan and Javi Gomez De Liaño led by Coach Bo Perasol went against all odds towards claiming a finals berth against the defending champions.
The UP journey to its historic 2018 finals appearance is documented for posterity in the book “Nowhere To Go But UP (How a Basketball Team Inspired a Nation)”, titled in honor of the UP community’s efforts to raise its team’s standings.
Season 82 in the following year saw UP infused with rising basketball superstars 1986 UP champion Benjie Paras’ son Kobe, and former De La Salle Green Archer champion, Ricci Rivero who has pledged to give back to UP IKOT drivers in his last UAAP season. The 2019 Maroons team suffered heartbreak with a semifinal finish after UST stopped the squad’s ascent into the finals with Ateneo.
UP Diliman and the Nowhere To Go But UP Foundation called the community to the “Lagablab Diliman” bonfire to celebrate the UP Fighting Maroons’ victory on May 14, 7 PM at the UP College of Human Kinetics Baseball field. Watch the live feed here:
WATCH the awarding of the UP Fighting Maroons, the UAAP Season 94 Men’s Basketball Champions here:
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