MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines (UP) veterans Mark Juruena and Moriah Gingerich have experienced defeat far too often during their stint with the Fighting Maroons and are eager to shed their tag as "losers" this coming season.
Both players were part of last year's team that went 0-14 and changed coaches in the middle of the season.
But after having spent more time with their coach, Rey Madrid, and with the entry of Dan Palami as the new team manager, Juruena and Gingerich reported that the Maroons are looking at the coming season with optimism.
"I think there is definitely a more positive attitude around practice recently as compared to in the past," said Gingerich.
Moreover, they believe they are better prepared this year after a hard off-season that saw them training twice a day and playing several tune-up games.
"Ang dami naming games, exposure," said Juruena. "Tapos, pagdating naman sana sa UAAP, hopefully after this season, ma-prove namin na hindi na kami loser, hindi kami talunan."
Juruena pointed out that most of the UP players don’t really experience a lot of losses up until they reach the college level.
"Kung titingnan mo 'yung mga players namin, noong high school kami, winners kami," he said. "And kung titingnan mo ‘yung coaches namin, winners din sila eh. So ayun, hindi talaga kami talunan."
"For me, 'yun ang goal ko, na i-prove namin na hindi kami talunan."
Gingerich thinks the Maroons have what it takes to finally snap their losing streak, even if they lost key contributors from last year’s team.
"I don't think we're necessarily more talented this year than in previous years, because we've had a lot of talented players that have gone to UP," he said. "But I think this team, to me, they have a special bond, and I think we’re more together."
He added that unlike previous years, this edition of the UP Maroons only want to win, without care for who leads the team to victory or scores the bulk of the points.
"We don't care who scores as much, whereas in the past – I can't really say, but guys try to get theirs at times," Gingerich admitted.
"But this year, I think everyone, we've had enough losing. We just want to win. We don’t care who scores, or whatever."