MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines (UP) head coach Rey Madrid raised some eyebrows when he guaranteed that the Fighting Maroons can win three games in the upcoming UAAP season.
But his confident words only served as motivation for his players.
After UP beat Emilio Aguinaldo College in their last game in the FilOil pre-season tournament, Madrid told reporters that he does not think the Maroons will once again be cellar-dwellers this UAAP season.
"We will win at least three, probably four (games)," said Madrid. "Anything more than that, there will be a big celebration sa UP campus. Motorcade siguro."
UP veteran JR Gallarza said Madrid’s brave prediction was at the front of their minds as they continue preparing for the season.
"We really just want to come through for Coach Rey this year," he said. "For him to guarantee and say that we can get three wins, I think we can really get that for him."
Gallarza said they want to fulfill their coach’s promise, especially as Madrid has done so much for them since taking over head coaching duties midway through Season 76.
"I really just want to come through for him and fulfill his promises to the media and to UP as a whole," he said.
Gallarza is the first to admit that the Maroons were in a "messy" situation when Madrid replaced Ricky Dandan last season. They had already lost eight games and were on their way to another winless season.
"It was a bad situation at the time, and I just think he came in at a bad time because our morale was down," said Gallarza. "It was hard to put our faith into a new coach, especially when our previous coach, he gave up on us quite a number of times."
It is a different situation now, according to Gallarza, as they have not only adapted to Madrid’s style of play, but have also grown fond of their new coach and the coaching staff.
"With Coach Rey's system now, he was able to implement it early, and we were able to practice it and perform it the entire summer," he said. "So we've all come together, and we’ve all come to trust Coach Rey."
"The assistant coaches also play a big role in keeping our confidence up and making sure that we’re on the same page," he added.
Aside from participating in pre-season competitions like the FilOil and Fr. Martin Cup, the Maroons are also set to travel to Taiwan where they will play seven games in seven days, Gallarza said.