The architect of this recent success is happy.
The UP Fighting Maroons have gone nowhere but up, and the recent PBA Draft was a testament to that.
In Sunday’s event, a total of five UP products were drafted including Zavier Lucero, who was tabbed fifth overall pick by the NorthPort Batang Pier.
Other draftees were second rounders Henry Galinato and Ricci Rivero, who went to Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, respectively. Sources later told One Sports the former was being shipped to TNT Tropang Giga in a deal made before the Draft.
Rounding out the five were Joe Gomez de Liaño and J-Boy Gob, who were both picked in the sixth round.
Bo Perasol, director of the Office for Athletics and Sports Development, couldn’t help but feel elated. After all, this was the most number of draftees under the former UP coach and program director.
“This is something to celebrate for the entire UP community because Fighting Maroons weren’t always considered prospects sa pros. Kung meron man tayo, manaka-naka lang,” he said.
“But eto ngayon, nakikita nating not only do we have a winning culture already, nakakapag-produce na rin tayo ng talent na gusto ng mga team sa pros.”
There was also Carl Tamayo. Had the 6-foot-8 forward decided to stay, he would have been a prospective top pick. But Tamayo opted to take his talents to the Japan B.League.
Under Perasol and coach Goldwin Monteverde, UP has had a great deal of success in the UAAP. Consequently, it has become a go-to destination for some of the country’s blue-chip recruits.
“What we’re seeing now is players want to play for UP because nabago na natin 'yung kultura. We’re Fighting Maroons, yes, but at the same time, tayo na rin ‘yung matagal na nating gustong maging: ‘Winning Maroons,” he said.
The number will only continue to grow in the years to come.