For a time, it looked as if the UP Fighting Maroons had nowhere to go but down.
After the 1986 UAAP championship, UP’s performance in the premiere collegiate league could be described as uneventful, even dismal, save for two seasons back in 1996 and 1997 when the team reached the Final Four.
The UP community grew indifferent. And with a string of bottom-dwelling and sometimes winless seasons in 2007, 2010 and 2013, the community seemingly lost all interest. Recruitment suffered. Aspirations towards a championship fizzled out. The UP Maroons continued to battle in the UAAP, but unlike their competition, they appeared less inspired, playing like boys against men.
Perhaps one reason was that the team operated on a bare-minimum budget. This resulted in so-so recruitment and short-term, season-to-season systems that failed to develop the young players from competitors to winners. Eventually, the once-mighty Maroons of 1986 and the late 90’s lost their winning ways, lacked the will to win and sank into a dismal losing culture. When the UP Fighting Maroons Men’s Basketball Team was mentioned, the name became synonymous with losing.
Through Seasons 78 through 80, the UP Fighting Maroons have become Final Four contenders once again. The team that celebrated on the basis of just one win is now poised to target the Final Four in Season 81 and, who knows? Maybe even the championship.
The UP Men’s Basketball Team got its biggest break in the off-season with the support and commitment of 3M Philippines. The global science company that never stops inventing and applies science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily has always believed in talent and most importantly, potential. Ariel Lacsamana, 3M Managing Director and a UP alumnus, said 3M became intrigued with the UP team and its story. Through its long and many struggles, the team never gave up. It kept chipping away at its challenges and solved its problems proudly and creatively. 3M loved the grit and the never-give-up attitude of the UP Fighting Maroons and decided it would take a chance on the UPMBT. It formalized a long-term partnership with the team that will support it through UAAP Season 81 and in other leagues that it would participate in as well.
“This is not the first time we are partnering with educational institutions or talent,” the 3M MD said. “We do what we can to support and provide tools, resources and knowledge. We believe that the UP Men’s Basketball Team is talent worth investing in.”
Come September when the UPMBT faces its most important battle which is UAAP Season 81, the team as well as the entire UP community can’t wait to show how grateful they are for 3M’s faith and generosity. The team will fight to show 3M their trust in the team was all worth it. A new winning tradition is here. There’s #nowheretogobutUP.