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Can UP break 21-year Final 4 drought with Ricci, Kobe?


By Mark Patriarca

It looks like UP Fighting Maroons dark days (decades) are officially over.

After patiently waiting for over two decades, it’s now the perfect reaping time for the squad as they get three key game-changers that can end their thirst for a Final Four finish in the UAAP.

The last time that the Fighting Maroons made it to the playoffs was way back in 1997. They didn’t made it to the promise land ever since. With big recruiting power from teams like Ateneo, National University and DLSU, the squad never got the chance to work with the best collegiate players and almost always end up at the bottom of the bunch come UAAP season.

But now, the tides have turned.

UP managed to get the services of one of the best NCAA’s foreign player in Bright Akhuetie. After that, UP made another big wave as highly touted prospect, Ricci Rivero, decides to join the Maroon’s ever-growing cast after being unceremoniously dropped from the DLSU program. And now, another Paras is set to carry the banner for UP.

In year 2019, UP’s projected starting five will be sibling’s Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, Rivero, Paras and Akhuetie, probably the league’s best five on paper. Chemistry won’t be a problem as the trio of Juan, Ricci and Kobe has all the time in the world to jell for they are also teammates in the Gilas cadets program.

As for the other two, Akhuetie’s talent can fit in any team who is in dire need of bigs. Javi is someone who can play the 3 or 4, depending on situation. His 6’5” frame is perfect for disrupting opponent’s offense and also has a good knack in shooting the three ball.

And with that potent cast, UP is not only expected to enter Final Four for the first time in two decades.

They are now the alpha males.

One of the most feared UAAP teams who can vie for the UAAP championship which they last held back in 1986.

Their time is now.