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Friday, April 12, 2024

Maroon numbers

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IS it just me or do you also notice something uncanny about the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons who are again on the verge of capturing another basketball title in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP)?

Not just another title, mind you. But back-to-back titles and the first ever (and maybe only) consecutive championships to be won in separate UAAP seasons taking place in the same calendar year, 2022.

The year 2022 is interesting in itself. It’s when the league really made efforts to get back to “pre-pandemic normal,” bringing back all its 21 sports in all divisions and making sports fans witness events live, in unrestricted numbers. But 2022 is also interesting in how it relates to the fortunes of the Fighting Maroons. It’s the Year of the Tiger, and if we go back to the one and only post-war title won by UP in the UAAP, that was 1986, a Tiger Year too, 36 years ago.

From the looks of it, Tiger Years are lucky for UP. They won their second UAAP crown in Season 84, 2022. Never mind that it was Friday the 13th and the winning shot was made by #13 (JD Cagulangan) who scored a total of 13 points that night. Talk about Tiger luck negating the supposed bad luck of the number and the day.

Well, the Season 85 Finals is still happening in a Tiger Year. Could the Maroons—still protected by the power of the Tiger—achieve the super feat of a historic back-to-back that would completely reverse their luckless 0-14 years of 2007, 2010 and 2013?

Take a closer look at those numbers, by the way. Those 0-wins and 14-loss seasons are evenly spaced at three years apart. Is there some strange numerology there?

Let’s look at some trivia to push the numerology angle a bit more. The Fighting Maroons ended Season 84 with a 72-69 win over the then defending champions, the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Would you believe they opened Season 85 with the same winning score, 72-69, against the De La Salle Green Archers on October 1, 2022?

What’s with the Maroons and No. 72? On Sunday, December 11, the Diliman squad won Finals Game 1 against their Katipunan foes with the score of 72-66. We can stretch the numbers a bit more and say if we reverse one 6 in the Ateneo score, we’d still get 72-69. But that’s where the Gen Z would say “Char!” (for charot or “just kidding”).

Beyond numbers, there are other interesting links or coincidences between the 1986 Tiger Maroons and the 2022 Tiger Maroons. Almost all in the 1986 Maroons were juniors champions from the San Beda Red Cubs. Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano, Joey Mendoza, Duane Salvatierra, Jig Mendoza, Benjie Paras and before them, Raymond Celis and Dondi Roque chose to play for UP in college because the Beda seniors team did not participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association during that stretch.

Today’s Maroons are also powered by juniors champions, but from National University (NU). Carl Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano, Terrence Fortea, Harold Alarcon and Cyril Gonzales were all NU Bull Pups. Two more Bull Pups are serving residency before they play in the UAAP. That’s Janjan Felicilda and Reyland Torres.

UP’s successful runs in both Tiger years seems to have benefited from the “exodus” of junior champions from one program to the other.

Both batches had “babies” in their squads, too. Year 1986 had Benjie Paras—the ”missing link” that provided his batch with a strong presence in the paint and later earned him the monicker “Tower of Power”—was famously doted on by his maternal grandmother. Year 2022 has Carl Tamayo, whom fans fondly call Baby Carl, because his boy-man looks trigger the maternal instincts of those who adore him.

So do these quirky coincidences really bind the fortunes of these two batches of Fighting Maroons? Will the 2022 Maroons go down in history as the only team to win two titles for two consecutive seasons in one calendar year?

Depends on how the Best of Three series pans out. Depends on what script Destiny writes.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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