UP lights bonfire after first UAAP basketball crown in 36 years

Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 15 2022 12:40 AM

Barely 24 hours after their historic win in UAAP basketball, members of the University of the Philippines community held their first bonfire as champions after more than three decades of waiting.

The winning team was complete as they met thousands of fans who converged at the baseball field of the College of Human Kinetics.

The community lit the bonfire amidst the classic Unibersidad cheer.

An emotional singing of UP Naming Mahal followed.

UP Diliman chancellor Fidel Nemenzo described the historic win as a ray of hope after a sad week. He said this is the start because there are more battles to be fought.

"Ang tagumpay nyo ay tagumpay ng sambayanan!" he said.

In an interview with ABSCBN News, College of Human Kinetics dean Francis Diaz recounted the challenges of assembling a team during the pandemic.

"Nakuha namin guidelines December, nag start kami January. Tas nag Omicron, so mahirap talaga," he said.

Nowhere to go but UP Founder Renan Dalisay also was emotional when he remembered the humble beginnings of the foundation that lifted the Maroons from the cellar.

Recalling an anecdote way back 2014, he said he got the chance to ask former UP King Maroon Paul Desiderio on what plagued the team that they always emerged winless, to which Desiderio responded "Nagugutom kami".

That conversation started wide efforts in sourcing for funding for the team, and the rest was history.

2014 was also an iconic year for the Maroons when they also held a bonfire after a single win against Adamson University in Season 77.

"That one single match triggered a bonfire," Dalisay said.

Hardcore fan Kristine Concepcion congratulated the players for a job well done.

"Everyone is a King Maroon," she said.

The boys took turns in thanking their families and supporters.

Among the young roster, only 2 are graduating this year, captains Noah Webb and Ricci Rivero. The rest have 3-4 more playing years.

Season 85 starts this coming September.