Interviews by KARL DECENA, ARDELLE COSTUNA, BRAD TANINGCO,
MARISSE PANALIGAN, JOSHUA DALUPANG, and GIAN GERONIMO
Tinig Ng Plaridel Sports, 2011
The year 1986 seems like so many lifetimes ago. It was certainly a different era, far removed from today’s commercialized collegiate basketball scene, where the next generation of hoop stars are recruited — some would say coddled — years before they step into a college campus. Back then, the players recruited each other to play for school pride, instead of perks and allowances.
It was a simpler time, but some things never change. The UP Fighting Maroons were contenders for the crown prior to winning the championship, but could not get over the hump, simply because they were a “donut” team missing a center. Enter freshman sensation Benjie Paras. But there was more to the story than meets the eye.
How big a deal was the Fighting Maroons’ championship? A Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial after the title win dealt with the school’s victory. Louie Beltran, then the paper’s editor-in-chief, penned the piece himself. UP has produced Presidents, Chief Justices, Chiefs of Staff, and even Communist and Moro rebel leaders, Beltran wrote, but the school never produced a champion basketball team until the 1986 UP Fighting Maroons. Here is their story in their own words.
“Lumakas ‘yung loob namin kasi parang we feel we could now compete with the other teams.”
Joe Lipa (Head Coach): I started coaching UP, if I’m not mistaken, 1981. In my first year, it was a really bad season. Out of the nine games, we won three. But in the second year, I think we played in the championship, that was in 1982, and then in 1983, we also played in the championship. And twice we lost.
Ronnie Magsanoc (4th Year Guard): ‘83 ang student number ko nu’n e. Pumasok kami sa finals nu’ng first year ko.
Eric Altamirano (4th Year Guard): I remember we were up by 10 points, last two minutes against UE, all to lose by one point. Sa sakit, talagang na-remember ko ‘yun. Naghanda na sila [UP president Edgardo] Angara ng pagkain sa Vinzons Hall, puro lechon, lahat walang kumain nu’n. Walang nakakain sa sobrang sama ng loob.
Magsanoc: We did not do too well in the next two years.
Lipa: There was a newly-organized Open PABL [Philippine Amateur Basketball League], organized by Ambassador Danding Cojuangco, and there were two categories: the commercial level and the collegiate level. To have a tougher competition [before the 1986 season], we participated in the commercial division where we landed fourth. Our sponsor I think during that time was Converse.
Altamirano: At that time, sina Samboy Lim yung mga kalaban namin, sina Jojo Lastimosa, who were already, at that time, named players na. They were almost in the caliber of PBA players. And na-notice ko lang parang we were holding our own, parang, “Wow, nakakasabay tayo sa mga ‘to ah.” We almost beat those teams. So we felt we were prepared coming to the UAAP.
Magsanoc: We always worked hard, believing that somehow we will get that breakthrough opportunity to make it all the way. But I don’t think anybody expected the Maroons to make it to the finals or win the championship, simply because the school has not had any record [of winning] for nearly 50 years.
Lipa: A lot of people, including me, were confident that the UP team would be very, very competitive that year, because for the first time, we had a complete line-up.
Joey Guanio (1st Year Forward): Si Ronnie and Eric were there to lead the team because they were veterans. Joey Mendoza, he was a veteran already. He would keep everything relaxed. It’s a good mix of veterans and rookies that year, the ‘86 team.
Lipa: Joey Mendoza was there, he played power forward and center. Joey Guanio, Primo Rodriguez, Choi Mendoza, Duane Salvaterra, Chris Somera, Bobby Noriega, Ramil Cruz – they played a very important role in that ‘86 team.
Altamirano: We felt confident lang nu’ng year na yun, kasi for the first time, nagkaroon na kami ng legitimate center, si Benjie Paras. ‘Yun ‘yung first year niya, so parang lumakas na yung loob namin kasi parang we feel we could now compete with the other teams. Kasi laging problema ng UP sentro eh.
Lipa: We did not recruit [players for the Maroons], they came into UP. Benjie Paras was being pirated heavily during that time by almost all schools.
Altamirano: Actually it was a concerted effort on our part, kami-kami mismo nagtutulungan mag-recruit sa bawat isa eh. I remember, before us, may mga San Beda [high school] players na ring nag-UP, so when we were in high school, sila naman ‘yung nanliligaw sa amin, “O sama-sama tayo dito ha.” So pumunta kami ng UP. So nu’ng time naman namin na nasa UP kami, kami naman yung nanliligaw kay Benjie, “O, Benj, sama-sama tayo dito ha.” So in essence, kami talaga yung nag-recruit sa bawat isa (laughs). Kasi I don’t think the school can do that for us eh, dahil, wala naman… except for academics, ‘di ba? Wala namang maibibigay sa amin yung school na, kasi wala namang funds ang school noon.
Guanio: ‘Yung gym na ‘yun, kung ano ‘yung itsura nu’ng 1986, gano’n pa rin ang itsura ngayon. ‘Yung basketball ring na isang mababa, isang mataas. Gano’n pa rin ‘yun eh.
Benjie Paras (1st Year Center): All of my teammates in UP, the first five, they all graduated from San Beda. Me, Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano, Joey Mendoza and Duane Salvaterra. We all came from San Beda.
Magsanoc: You have to remember that recruitment in the new millennium, it’s very different from the recruitment dati, so I don’t think there’s any point of comparison between before and now in terms of recruitment. At naniniwala ako na ‘yung mga players at that time ang pumili, it was their choice to go to that school. Not because of what they were getting, because they were not getting anything compared to now, but because they wanted to go to a good school.
Paras: Actually when I talked to other schools, the ones who talked to me are the coaches. Kaya lang, UP coaches talked to me, [but also] players and alumni. And ‘yun nga, I was convinced that this is the school for me, na I will fit in. Not really the school na hinahanap ko yung magandang offer. Will I be happy in this school, will I fit in, will I excel in this team, ‘yun ang hinahanap ko.
Guanio: When we arrived there, they were very warm. Sobra. Parang, “Tagal na namin kayong hinihintay, mabubuo na tayo.” Parang ganu’n ‘yung feeling eh. So when we were there, after the first and second practices, immediately, we felt like we are a part of the team. So that was a big factor for us being rookies coming out of high school. That was a big thing for us na to be accepted right away in the team.
Lipa: We met once and I told [Paras] that we have a good all-around education in UP, and second, it will be my personal commitment that I will do everything within my capacity to make him the best center in the land.
Paras: Comparing UP to other schools, UP for me is still number one. I will play, I will benefit from playing, and at the same time I will benefit from studying, from graduating from that school.
Magsanoc: Basketball was a tool that enabled players including myself, to give themselves the chance of finding good education or the best education possible. It just so happens na nabiyayaan kami na may skill kami na maglaro, pero it all boils down to getting the best education possible and being rewarded as a successful student-athlete eventually.
“Kapag sinabi ni Coach Joe na one-minute break, takbuhan na kami sa banyo, kaniya-kaniyang inom ‘yan sa gripo.”
Magsanoc: I needed to wake up at 5 a.m. kasi ang practice namin [sa national team] sa Rizal [Memorial Coliseum] 6 a.m. Pagkatapos ng practice ng 6 to 8, tatakbo ako sa UP, wala naman akong sasakyan, mag-bu-bus ako. Pagdating ko sa UP, maglalaro pa ako sa isang commercial team, so aalis na naman ako sa UP pupunta naman ako sa practice ng commercial team. Tapos aalis naman ako sa commercial team, tatakbo ako para pumasok ako, tapos magpa-practice ako sa UP. Natutulog nga ako sa banyo ng UP eh. Halimbawa ‘yung practice 6 p.m., I come in 5:30 p.m., matutulog muna ko ng 30 minutes. Tapos after ng practice sa UP, uuwi na ko kasi kinabukasan kailangan ko gumising nang maaga.
Altamirano: I have three practices in one day. So I practice for the UP team, for my PABL team, and then for the national team, so talagang it was really challenging, but I made sure I never neglected my studies. So, siguro I counted in my fingers ‘yung mga na-drop ko o na-singko ko, meaning konti lang ‘yun, I made sure na I was very conscious of that. Mahirap talaga.
Guanio: Pero ‘pag inisip mo how cooperative the teachers were, the professors were… of course, talagang may mga hindi mo makakausap. Pero there were some na talagang naiinitindihan ka naman. Gaya nu’ng History namin, ‘yung Philippine History, mahilig sa basketball, mababait ‘yung mga professors. ‘Yung Spanish nga kasi minsan bading ‘yung mga professors, so kakalibitin mo lang, lalandi-landiin mo lang. Mga ganu’n. Pero, you learn to balance eh.
Paras: [Sometimes] I need to talk to the professors to give me special projects. O kaya they will give me one exam and they will multiply it by four, kung ilan ‘yung kailangan. So mababait naman, ‘yung iba very considerate. ‘Yung iba naman hindi, so kailangan mong tiyagain.
Guanio: We had a player, Primo Rodriguez, who is now a professor in UP Los Baños.
Altamirano: Si Primo Rodriguez, siya ‘yung pinaka-smart sa amin. Meron kaming exam sa Economics and I had to ask Coach Joe Lipa kung pwedeng, “Coach, pa-excuse po muna si Primo tsaka ako ah, mag-aaral lang kami, tuturuan lang ako.” Talagang, “Tututuran lang ako, may exam ako sa Economics, I need to pass that.” So in-excuse kami ni Coach Joe, punta kami sa bahay ni Primo, tapos meron siyang study group, siya nagturo. Imagine four books ‘yung in-explain sa akin ni Primo, and totoo naman, pumasa ako du‘n sa Econ exam because of him.
Guanio: Our practices would range from 6 o’clock to 8:30 p.m. So after 8:30, wala pa nga kaming mga cooler-cooler, kapag sinabi ni Coach Joe na one-minute break, takbuhan na kami sa banyo, kaniya-kaniyang inom ‘yan sa gripo. ‘Yun lang, ‘yun ang tubig namin. So after nu’n, wala kaming food. ‘Yung ngayon, ‘yung mga players ngayon, after ng practice may pagkain pa sila, ‘di ba? Pero noon kaniya-kaniyang uwi. O sige, go, ba-bye na. Huddle na tapos, “Bukas ensayo natin, 6 o’clock.”
Magsanoc: Mahirap talaga. It came to a point na maiiyak ka na talaga, pero anak-mahirap ako, ‘yun lang ang kaya ko. It was also basketball that saved me and funded my studies dahil nga naglalaro ako. Pero swerte dahil it prepared us for the life ahead. Siguro kung ‘di ako nahirapan ng ganun, ‘di ko ma-a-appreciate kung ano ang meron ako. So thankful ako. I would never change anything na pinaghirapan namin.
“Halos every practice naman nasisigawan ako nu’n. Lagi akong pinapahiya, hanggang sa kumbaga ‘yung malabas ko yung galit ko during the game.”
Chito De La Vega (Inquirer Sports Reporter): Si Joe Lipa sikat na noon, at noon pa lang, kinukumpara na siya kay Bobby Knight.
Altamirano: Coach Joe was really ahead of his time sa coaching, so, kumbaga, yung ginagawa namin, ‘pag sa tingin ng ibang tao, “Ano ba ‘to, weird naman ‘tong mga ginagawa nitong mga players na ‘to, yung team na ‘to.” But at that time, it was something new, so si Coach Joe was able to bring that sa Philippine basketball. So he introduced that early, and eventually, the other teams copied him already, and you know, was able to do what he was doing. ‘Yun lang ang advantage namin, we were coached by a very intelligent coach.
Guanio: Si Coach Joe talagang disciplinarian. Tapos talagang mahirap magpa-ensayo. Hard-nosed, kasi ang laki ng ilong nu’n eh.
Paras: He is a good coach. He will be mean to you, kaya lang ‘yung pagiging mean niya is for you to improve. Ako naman, alam niya ‘yung potential ko, kaya he made effort to maximize the talent that I got, na mailabas ko. Patatapangin ka niya. Kasi let’s face it, basketball is a physical sport. Hindi pwede ‘yung mabait ka rin dun. So kailangan, you need to be tough. May mga co-players na walang gagawin kundi asarin ka, saktan ka, and you need to be ready. It’s not all the time na you will receive ganu’ng klaseng paninira. May time na kailangan mong bumawi.
Guanio: Si Benjie, Bondying ang tawag dyan [ni Coach Joe]. Eh nu’ng time kasi nu’n, parang ang laki-laki pero bo-bondying-bondying.
Paras: Halos every practice naman nasisigawan ako nu’n. Lagi akong pinapahiya, hanggang sa kumbaga yung malabas ko ‘yung galit ko during the game.
Magsanoc: [Coach Joe] was a mentor and a teacher to all of us. And he opened the doors to a lot of realities in life for all of us, and we are indebted to him eternally dahil he catered to all of us to be given the privilege sa paglalaro and at the same time find our mark sa UP.
“Parang talo na kami, talo na kami.”
Magsanoc: Ang malalakas nun ang UE, Adamson, FEU. ‘Yung tatlong ‘yun ang laging teams to beat.
Paras: Mga first few games namin, we won, so ‘yun na ‘yung nagpataas ng morale nu’ng team.
Guanio: Minsan may mga supporters na magpapakain. ‘Pag wala, uwian na. Ganu’n lang, walang gimik, walang mga recovery sessions, walang mga spa. “Uwi na kayo!” Bahala na kayo. Kita-kita na lang bukas sa ensayo.
Paras: During the game against UE, we lost, nu’ng first round. Tapos during the second round naman we lost against UST, so parang nagkaroon kami ng a little doubt ‘cause pag na-straight ng UE, they will win the championship. Kaya lang they lost against FEU, so ‘yun nagkaroon kami ng chance ‘cause we need to play a knockout game against FEU.
Guanio: We had so many obstacles that year because Eric and Ronnie were included in the Philippine team lineup for the Asian Games. So when they were there, iniwan kami dito. Coach Joe had to go with them also because he was the coach of the national team. So what happened was some of the UAAP games, Adamson, NU yata, we had to play without Ronnie, without Eric, who were our number one and two point guards at that time. To add to that, wala pa si Coach Joe.
Lipa: I didn’t consider it an obstacle, but I think a blessing in disguise was when our players left for the Asian Games, last minute, to Seoul, Korea. And we missed three games. And when we came back, number one was UE, and we were tied with FEU at second place. And we had to play a knock-out match against FEU to have a privilege to play against UE in the championship.
Guanio: We had to go through a bakbakan with FEU… [we thought] FEU won the game already. So they were freezing the ball, iniikot na lang ‘yung bola para maubos yung time.
Lipa: With eight seconds to go, FEU had possession of the ball and we were behind one point.
Altamirano: Parang talo na kami, talo na kami.
Guanio: For some reason, nag-crosscourt pass ‘yung isang player nila.
Paras: Si Ramil Cruz ‘yung nakaagaw nu’ng bola. And he’s not a point guard, forward siya, so awkward pag-dribble niya.
Altamirano: And then he went all the way for the basket, for us to win the game. So ‘yun ‘yung parang, wow, talagang sigawan, everybody was, parang, if we had lost the game, that was it for us. So nobody remembers that, but we do.
Lipa: That steal is one of the best things that happened to the UP team. It was almost forgotten, but Ramil was a real hero during that time.
Editor's Note: Ramil Cruz went on to become the technical director of the PBA and an interim coach of the Fighting Maroons. He died of heart failure in 2015 at age 48.
“We had to do something to neutralize Jerry Codiñera, so we had to put up a zone.”
The Fighting Maroons pulled off a last-minute miracle against Far Eastern University in the playoffs, but awaiting them in the championship was University of the East.
The Red Warriors had won three of the last four UAAP championships, including the last two, and were heavily favored going into the finals.
UE had the twice-to-beat advantage by virtue of finishing on top of the elimination round. Even though top gunner Allan Caidic was no longer with the team, the Red Warriors still had the best big man in the UAAP, Jerry Codiñera.
Guanio: We had a very good record. I think we only had three losses. [But we had] two bad losses from UE na talagang big losses.
Altamirano: Nu’ng una tingin namin sa UE invincible, parang hindi namin matalo. Everytime we play them, tambak kami.
Guanio: ‘Yung second round loss namin sa kanila, we really prepared for it in such a way na before the game, they brought us to Westin Philippine Plaza, to Sofitel, just to inhale the breeze of the ocean. Parang ganiyan, to relax before the game. Pagdating namin du’n all of us were in a bus, we were brought to Rizal Memorial. ‘Yun, tinambakan kami ng bente agad.
Altamirano: UE was the No. 1 team. They were almost unbeatable, so first and second round talagang walang makatalo dyan.
Guanio: Losing twice to them in the regular season and coming up in the playoffs with the twice-to-beat advantage parang it looked so bleak for us to win the championship.
Altamirano: And then, when we came back from Korea, si Coach Joe had a good game plan, strategy, how to beat UE. So for the first time we practiced that. So parang, na-feel ko na, “Wow, maganda ‘to, I think magugulat ang UE.” Parang we’ve never done that against UE before, so I felt confident that this time we’re going to beat them, kasi nga we had a good game plan.
Paras: They needed to prove na they’re still the best. So kami naman, parang we’re the challenger. So kami nothing to lose. We just need to play the way we want to play and no pressure. ‘Yun lang.
Altamirano: UE was so good in man-to-man because of Jerry Codiñera. We had to do something to neutralize Jerry Codiñera, so we had to put up a zone. Meron kaming zone defense na pinag-aralan and that neutralized Jerry inside. And then Coach Joe asked us to speed up the game.
Guanio: Coach Joe had to put in some new ideas, we had to cram, we had to practice twice, 7 a.m to 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Everyday ‘yun before the UE game.
Altamirano: Game One, I felt we really controlled the game eh. So, again, parang nabulaga ‘yung UE, hindi nila alam what hit them, they could not adjust, so parang, para sa akin, it was a convincing win.
Lipa: Joey Mendoza, I remember, played a very important role in the first game.
Paras: When you win the first game, nasa inyo na ‘yung lahat ng momentum eh. So nasa ‘yo na lahat nu’ng parang pabor. Saka mataas na ‘yung morale namin nun.
Magsanoc : Fear, pressure, when you make it that far, you are motivated by the chance to win eh. So, alam mo minsan ‘di mo alam kung ano pakiramdam, ‘di mo alam kung ano tawag, kasi bata ka pa eh. All I know, syempre kabado ka. ‘Di naman pwedeng buo loob mo dahil bata ka pa nu’n.
Altamirano: Nu’ng second game na, parang alam na [ng UE] ‘yung ginagawa namin, so the game was close in the first half.
Lipa: Ronnie Magsanoc, I think, was suffering from flu during that championship game.
De La Vega: Maraming tao nu’n [nu’ng second game]. Relatively bagong stadium pa noon ang ULTRA, kaya lang malayo siya, wala pang masyadong biyaheng jeep papunta nu’n e. Hindi nga lang sa Araneta, hindi siya televised live, hindi ko lang alam kung televised siya as it is.
Altamirano: Si Coach Joe, galit na galit siya nu’ng first half, kasi feeling niya niluluto kami ng mga referees, so he was really on his feet, he was shouting to the referees, he was complaining a lot, and he was like [trying to pick] a fight, so it was chaotic in the first half. And then when we went back to the dugout, nagulat ako, nag-iba ‘yung demeanor ni Coach. “Atin na ‘to.” And I heard him say that, I felt more confident, na he knows what he’s doing, and he knew that we could beat this team, that inspired me also na I’m going to do my best in the second half.
Magsanoc: [After the game], nu’ng nagtayuan ‘yung mga tao, si Benjie umakyat din dun sa may officials’ table eh. So ‘yun ang natatandaan ng mga tao. Saka nakita ko ‘yung UP, wala namang pumunta sa ‘tin nun eh [sa simula]. Pero when we started winning, people started coming and eventually they filled up the PhilSports Arena, dati Ultra pa yun. So nakita ko rin sila.
Tessa Jazmines (UP Professor): The hero of that game, ‘yung championship game na ‘yun, was Eric Altamirano. So he won that game for UP. Right after the game, he drove all the way to Rizal Memorial to play another basketball game for the Yco Painters. Sa PABL pa nu’n.
Altamirano: I think I almost played the whole game sa UP, but because my adrenaline was really pumping, and it was a new team for me, I had to rush to the next game. We were playing Purefoods, team noon sa PABL. And the game went into overtime, and I remember, ako pa yata nag-best player du’n sa game na ‘yun. I had to make a three-point shot to tie the game. So parang, “Wow naman,” it was really a special day for me.
Lipa: In the championship series, Benjie Paras was exceptional, and Eric Altamirano. Joey Guanio shot very well, but in the second game, I think most of the workload of the team was taken care of by almost of all the players, everybody contributed well.
Magsanoc: It’s all about team effort and everybody should be credited for what we achieved during that particular year. It was a special time and that was a special group and a very good coach and a very good coaching staff to help us reach the promise land.
Paras: After ng championship, we went to a Chinese restaurant, I forgot the name na. So du’n, du’n kami pinakain ng alumni. Nagkaroon ng party, parang celebration magdamag.
“It was so big then. Nasa front page kami ng mga newspapers.”
Lipa: [UP president] Edgardo Angara was very happy, and there was one special day for the UP team. There was a parade, and all of the team players were recognized. There was a celebration sponsored by alumni, especially the Sigma Rho fraternity during that time.
Magsanoc: Merong parade, ‘yun naaalala ko ‘yun. Kasi ang UP is not known for sports eh, at wala rin namang recognition sa mga athletes during our time. After we won it, sinara ang UP, sinakay kami sa bus na malaki, lahat kami, tapos din-rive ‘yun dahan-dahan. As usual, yagit pa rin (laughs). Pero para sa ‘min, malaking bagay na ‘yun.
Jazmines: May bonfire, parang ‘yung [UP] centennial [celebration]. Parang ganu’n kasaya. First time na fireworks syempre, ganu’n.
Paras: We were recognized in front of the Oblation. Du’n kami nag-celebrate tapos du’n din ginawa ‘yung bonfire. We were introduced, and that for me is one of the best na naramdaman ko, all of the UP students were there supporting [us].
Altamirano: It was so big then. We were in the front page, nasa front page kami ng mga newspapers, ganu’n. Tapos nasa column page kami, they were talking about that, kasi nga 48 years eh. So I think for a month ‘ata it was all over the papers, magazines, and we were invited for interviews.
Lipa: It was historic, and everybody was celebrating. We all find the team in the headlines; even non-sports writers and non-sports columnists wrote about the game. One of the most remembered statements was, “It was a victory which was felt in these walls of progress as well as in the Cordillera’s mountains.” Everyone celebrated.
Guanio: It was really big kasi finally, after 48 years of nothing, we finally won something in ’86. After that, ‘yung team, we were brought to Hong Kong. I think may mga holidays tayo nu’n after nu’ng championship.
Altamirano: What I cherish most is, when we won the championship, sobrang bait sa amin ng UP, na binuksan sa amin ‘yung schedule ng classes. So parang for the first time, “O, pili ka ng teacher mo, pili ka ng time mo.” Eh ako naman, ang goal ko noon, magtapos na ako. So I [took a] full load. Kasi hindi kami allowed mag-full load eh. So when we won the championship, sabi ko, I’ll focus na on my studies, I want to graduate, so full-load na ako, nag-21 units na ako, tapos napili ko ‘yung mga teachers ko, oras ko, kasi alam mo ‘yun, ang hirap kumuha eh, pipila ka eh. ‘Yun ‘yung isa sa mga privileges na na-enjoy ko.
Magsanoc: Noon pa man, maski bata ako nun, naisip ko nun na this could probably be a good starting point para sa mga student-athletes in the future. Finally, maiintindihan ng mga professors na una, meron naman palang sports sa UP. Pangalawa, meron naman palang mga student-athletes na pwede namang mag-excel kahit papaano, at saka pangatlo, pwede nilang suportahan at bigyan ng kahit papanong tulong ‘yung mga atleta na estudyante dahil napakahirap mag-aral at maglaro sa UP.
“My agreement with UP was to deliver a championship. And after delivering the championship, I retired from UP.”
Guanio: After ‘86, Eric did not play anymore. He wanted to graduate so he pursued his studies. Todo na. Nag-full load na siya.
Altamirano: I still had one more year, pero I decided nga not to play na, to concentrate on my studies na.
Guanio: Joey Mendoza was a graduate na, wala na siya. Duane Salvaterra wala na. Marami. Tatlo nawala.
Paras: Marami nang nawala and then nag-resign si Coach Joe.
Jazmines: Hindi naman, “I resign.” Hindi naman siya gumanun after nanalo, tapos the next day, [nag-resign]. May kaunting [pagitan].
Lipa: My agreement with UP was to deliver a championship. And after delivering the championship, I retired from UP.
Paras: And then, naging iba na yung sistema, kumbaga parang hindi na ganu’n kaganda yung pag-co-coach.
Magsanoc: Bumalik pa kami. Naglaro pa ako ng isa pang taon.
Guanio: We were doing well with Ronnie, Ronnie Magsanoc, ako, si Benjie, and the rest of the guys, we were doing well during the season. Si Coach Joe na naman ‘yung naging coach ng national team, tapos nagpa-tryouts sila, tapos nakuha kami. So tatlo kaming nawala: ako, si Benjie, tsaka si Ronnie. We were all included in the national team during the UAAP season.
Magsanoc: Eventually, the scheduling derailed us because there were several games that were scheduled na wala kami, we were in the Southeast Asian Games, but that was no excuse.
Guanio: During that time, we incurred losses that were crucial to our standings. So ang nangyari nu’n, I think Ateneo was the host that year. May mga games na na-schedule na wala kami. I think that year natalo kami sa NU. Because of the stint in the national team, na-compromise yung standings natin. So ‘di tayo nakapasok.
Lipa: I think they got third place during the 1987 season.
Guanio: The format was top two. Wala namang final four. If there had been a final four, OK sana. Tapos I remember there was a game, we were coming from the SEA games from Indonesia, on that same day, we had a game against Adamson. So, pag-uwi namin, pagdating sa airport, we had to rush sa Rizal Memorial. Ronnie was sick because of the trip from Indonesia, we lost that game. Crucial din ‘yon. So I think we lost two when we were not here, tapos one when we arrived. So ‘yun ang nangyari.
Paras: I played for three years, and then I turned pro.
Magsanoc: I think it all boiled down to understanding that it was so tough to get there, so you might not be able to go there anymore. So you hold on to the belief that you have to make the most out of it, because for all you know you will not be able to go there again.