The UP Fighting Maroons have never been known to receive much in terms of funding or support.
But that’s starting to change now, and that might mean bigger things are in store for the team after they ended a 27-game losing streak on Saturday.
Alumni supporters, among them Senator Sonny Angara and Senator Chiz Escudero, have recently begun to throw some much-needed aid the Fighting Maroons’ way.
Angara provided the Fighting Maroons some equipment, including a 50-inch LED TV and a DVD player for use in review of game tape while Escudero offered some help in the form of brand new pairs of basketball shoes for the players.
Angara, a known basketball supporter who was instrumental in fast-tracking of the naturalization of NBA player Andray Blatche, gave the equipment prior to the win, though he doesn’t believe that it was a factor in the team’s first win in two years.
“Nagkataon lang,” Angara told InterAksyon.com in an interview.
But like everyone in the UP community, Angara was delighted by the players’ performance against Adamson.
“I’m very happy siyempre kasi first win in 28 games so talaga crazy happy ang mga taga-UP,” he added. “The team played great defense and played with a lot of heart.”
UP chancellor Michael Tan said that the fact that alumni have been supporting the team is already a big deal.
“The joke always is our only incentive when recruiting is all we can offer you is a UP diploma. Wala kaming perks, they don’t have nice dorms. It’s only recently that Senator Chiz Escudero donated shoes to them. Of course, may shoes naman sila but just getting new shoes, ibang bagay din yun,” Tan said.
“It’s been so long, but it’s also a realization na this win comes because the team worked so hard. Everyone pitched in, and most importantly ang alumni natin. This is the first time that we have a broad segment of alumni coming in. We have no way to go but up.”
Team manager Dan Palami, the Azkals and Global FC backer whose role is to generate more alumni support for the Fighting Maroons, is seeing his work pay off with the UP community getting behind the team of late.
“We’ve always tried hard to make sure that everything works to get united para nalalaman naman ng team na the whole community is supporting them. And that’s what we’ve been trying to drum up, that’s why andito tayo, para i-encourage lahat ng sectors ng UP community – students, faculty, the alumni, most especially,” Palami said.
“They’ve been very helpful in the past games. It has come to this. We want to savor this one muna after such a long drought.”