Photo by Jonathan David Magsino

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons shocked powerhouse Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Spikers in straight-set fashion, 25-21, 25-20, 25-22, to open their UAAP Season 82 campaign with a bang earlier today at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.

After a disappointing 1-13 finish in Season 81, the Maroon Spikers pulled an upset over third-placers Ateneo, led by rookies Louis Gamban and John Lomibao, who finished with 10 and 11 markers apiece in their UAAP debut.

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Rookie John Lomibao celebrates with team captain Mac Millete. / Photo by Jonathan David Magsino

Errors plagued both teams in the first set before the Blue Spikers committed consecutive errors to put the Diliman-based squad on top, 25-21. 

State U seemed to found their groove to open the second set, 12-9, before the Blue Spikers crafted a 5-2 run to tie the match at 14. Open spiker Lomibao exploded and dropped five points to give UP the lead two sets to none, 25-20.  

After reaching numerous deadlocks in the third set, both teams fired offensive kills and exchanged leads point after point before Gamban scored four of Maroon’s last five points to seal the match, 25-21. 

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Player of the Game Louis Gamban put on a show in his stellar UAAP debut. / Photo by Jonathan David Magsino 

Gamban, who earned his first Player of the Game honors, built from eight attacks, one block, one ace and six excellent receptions shrugged off his on-court swag that sent the UP crowd wild as “part of the plan”

“Kasama po ‘yun, nasa plano po ‘yun… “ Gamban admitted. “Masaya po kami sa training, masaya kami pagpunta namin dito. Parang normal day lang, wala naman kaming ano last year eh. Parang ito yung rebound, ito na kami. Kami naman.” 

On playing vs Ateneo

Head tactician Rald Ricafort only wanted one thing – to start the season on the right foot and let the team translate their training effort in games.

“Ang goal talaga namin is simulan nang maayos yung season, so kahit sino yung maging unang kalaban mahihirapan talaga kasi Ateneo yung simula agad. Sabi ko naman sa kanila, lahat ng adjustments – offense, defense – execute lang. Tsaka yung sa mental part namin maayos. Today, nag-execute sila nang maayos” he said.

Despite their first victory against Ateneo in six years, Ricafort only looks to take one game at a time to rebuild State U’s campaign.

“Hindi naman sa inaral namin sila, pero talagang nakabase lang kami na one game at a time.. Sabi ko naman nung presscon ta-try naming i-challenge per team,” the tactician said. “Hindi ko na iniisip ‘yon na may history pa na ‘di pa nanalo basta kung sino man kalaban namin, kailangan ready kami mentally tsaka physically.”  

The Maroon Spikers look to record their second win of the season as they collide with the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors 9am on Saturday, March 7, at MOA Arena.

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