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Paul Desiderio’s extraordinary guts give UP a chance at UAAP title

Put it simply, Paul Desiderio has balls.


With everything stacked against University of the Philippines, Desiderio made sure that he was the one to wield that flaming sword and thrust it down the chest of Adamson University for the 89-87 win and the finals berth in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball.

The Fighting Maroons trailed 84-78 with 2:39 left in overtime before Desiderio’s teammates clawed UP to an 84-all after Bright Akhuetie’s second chance layup with 1:09 left.


READ: UP Maroons head to first UAAP finals stint in 32 years

Then Desiderio went to work, scoring UP’s last five points including the game-winner with 6.6 seconds left in the game.

“I feel euphoric right now because I’ve sacrificed everything, I planned on entering the PBA Draft but I put it aside because I’ll do everything I can first for UP,” said Desiderio in Filipino.

“It’s a nice feeling that I will give my all to UP and give my school a chance at the championship.”

READ: Paul Desiderio etches a legacy of swag in UP’s lore

Desiderio’s first season with UP ended in disaster after the Fighting Maroons finished with a 0-14 record in 2013, but that never handicapped his spirit.

Desiderio began what has become Fighting Maroons’ battle cry “atin to!” when he shouted that declaration during a timeout before he hit the game-winner in UP’s 74-71 win over University of Santo Tomas in Season 80.


And in the biggest game of his collegiate career, Desiderio embodied what that phrase is all about. Against the guy who had broken UP heart several times, Desiderio nailed the biggest shot of his life.

READ: Adamson’s Manganti hits dagger against UP anew

UP head coach Bo Perasol said Desiderio’s clutch basket was borne out of pure guts especially when the Maroon captain was shooting at 3-of-19 at that point.

“There wasn’t a play, he just owned it, he really wanted that shot, and if you can see he had a lot of missed shots before that,” said Perasol in Filipino.

That shot was his. The victory was theirs.

For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity.

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