It will be a championship fight for the ages.
For the first time in the history of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) basketball league, the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University will face off for the finals.
It’s been billed as the Battle of Katipunan, the Quezon City district where the two universities are neighbours.
The best of three series starts on December 1.
It is also a historic moment for the UP Fighting Maroons. For the first time in 32 years, the team has entered the UAAP basketball finals.
The last time UP won the championship was in 1986 when Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc and Eric Altamirano led the team to victory.
Now a new breed of UP Fighting Maroons have stepped into hallowed ground and are back in the finals to try and bring back to the Diliman campus against all odds collegiate basketball’s biggest prize.
UP will challenge defending champion Ateneo for the throne after overcoming No. 2 Adamson Soaring Falcons’ twice-to-beat advantage on November 28.
Top-seeded Ateneo, on the other hand, overwhelmed the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in their own semifinal duel and clinched its third straight UAAP Finals appearance.
For the first time in three years, the Ateneo Blue Eagles only needed one game to eliminate the Far Eastern University Tamaraws to clinch the first championship berth in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament.
Three decades after they dispatched off Jerry Codiñera and the University of the East Red Warriors in the UAAP
Finals under coach Joe Lipa, the 2018 Fighting Maroons, with Paul Desiderio and Juan Gomez de Liano will face off with Thirdy Ravena and the well-rested defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles.
“This team will fight, no matter what,” said coach Bo Perasol, a former team captain of the Fighting Maroons in the early 90s. “These guys refused to give up. We were blessed with this kind of win.”