#Atin82: Why UP Fighting Maroons fans are looking forward to next UAAP season

December 6, 2018 - 1:49 PM
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UP Juan Gomez de Liano
UP star Juan Gomez de Liano in mid-dunk during Game 2 of the Finals series between the UP Fighting Maroons and the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles. (Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV)

Fans of the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons are professing their faith in their men’s basketball team’s potential to reap further success in future UAAP seasons by using the hashtag #Atin82.

UP fans used the hashtag in their messages of thanks to the Fighting Maroons after their valiant stand against back-to-back champions Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 81 finals on Wednesday.

The Maroons lost 81-99 to the Eagles but refused to back down throughout the game held at the Araneta Coliseum.

For some, the hashtag represented the community’s faith in the 2019 team seen by some basketball analysts to be one of the most fearsome the league.

Blue-chip transferees Kobe Paras, who played in the highly-competitive US National Collegiate Athletics Association Division 1, and former De La Salle University Green Archers star Ricci Rivero, are expected to finally suit up with the Maroons in Season 82 in 2019 after they finish their residency period in the university.

They will be joining players such as Bright Akhuetie, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, Will Gozum and Jun Manzo, from the successful Season 81 squad.

‘Atin ‘to’ and trusting the process

#Atin82 has its origins in the “Atin ‘to” slogan popularized by Paul Desiderio, the Maroons’ graduating star and team captain.

In UP’s semi-final series with the Adamson Soaring Falcons, it was adopted by fans as the state university’s battle cry against the twice-to-beat Falcons. It evolved into #AtinTwo as the UP fans clamored for two straight victories against the second-seeded Falcons, who responded with #AminTwo in the heated series.

The Maroons beat the favored Falcons in two games, 73-71 and 89-87, to book their first UAAP men’s basketball finals appearance since 1986. The game winner in the second match came from none other than Desiderio, whose promise of success gave birth to the university’s new battle cry.

Desiderio in an interview with GMA News after the finals series with Ateneo acknowledged how his mantra evolved into a new cheer for the Maroons.

“I was a bit flustered because of that phrase and how so many people kept shouting it earlier, but I’m happy,” Desiderio said in Filipino during the interview after he was asked about the slogan’s sudden popularity.

“Happy because it’s like so many people have grown to believe that even a weaker team can win,” Desiderio added.

Desiderio like many of the UP fans is optimistic about the Maroons’ potential to bounce back in the next season.

“There’s a lot of pressure on them but I know they can do it. Kobe (Paras) and Ricci (Rivero) will be there. I think they can win a championship,” he said about his teammates’ Season 82 campaign.

Aside from a winning mentality exhibited by their young players in recent seasons, assistance from the state university’s alumni also helped transform the team from the league’s usual cellar-dwellers to title contenders.

UP alumnus Renan Dalisay, a former National Food Authority administrator, recently related how he and other alumni decided to band together to help out the once-struggling Maroons.

“The game has grown sickeningly “commercialized,” I know. UP stands by its ideals, I know, too. The University rewards integrity and excellence, but if its meager budget does not allow it to, should not the Alumni step in?,” he wrote in a column for ANC.

The Nowhere to Go But UP Foundation he helped found in recent years helped the team acquire new talent as well as raise funds to address the players’ needs.