THEN AND NOW: The 1986 UP Championship team

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MANILA, Philippines – It was a championship over 40 years in the making. The University of the Philippines (UP) ended decades of heartbreak in October 1986 when, for the first time in school history, they overcame tall odds to win the UAAP men's basketball championship.

The Fighting Maroons previously won a championship in 1940 – but it was a title they shared with Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas. Forty-six years later, they dashed University of the East's hopes of a "three-peat" with a hard-fought win that "brought on the tears" from UP fans that included "everyone from Ed Angara to the Sigma Rhoans," according to The Philippine Star.

"A generation of fans bereft of UAAP glory," was how Lito A. Tacujan of The Philippine Star described the UP supporters who flocked to the ULTRA to watch the Maroons battle the Jerry CodiƱera-led Warriors in the winner-takes-all game of the Finals.

"These are the Beatle diehards, the Diliman Commune cadres, the guys who stormed the Dean's office, and barricaded the campus against the Metrocom. When they regrouped at EDSA, People's Power was an old exercise. But not for a UAAP crown," he wrote.

The "sheer number" of UP fans stunned the defending champions, and the Maroons dominated. Eric Altamirano led the way, but Benjie Paras – "the youth who made it all happen," Tacujan said – and Ronnie Magsanoc contributed. In the end, they won, 98-89, and made history that 30 years later remains to be repeated.

The protagonists of the championship team remain in the limelight even 30 years later – Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano, and Coach Joe Lipa. Other members of the team who contributed to the title run like Joey Guanio and Joey Mendoza are still involved in basketball.

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