Maroons bring back bronze in UAAP general championship

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons were no strangers to momentous victories and some tear-jerking losses throughout the season, earning them their second consecutive bronze in the UAAP Season 86 general championship with 258 points.

The overall standings mirrored the previous season’s as the University of Santo Tomas retained the general title for the seventh straight time, accumulating 332 points, while De La Salle University finished second with 269. 

Cream of the Crop

Three of the Fighting Maroons’ 14 podium finishes, excluding the recently-concluded Streetdance Competition, were drought-ending championships in Men’s Judo, Women’s Swimming and Men’s Football.

After 16 long years, the UP Men’s Judo Team (UP MJT) hauled in the coveted championship, gaining their fifth title.

UP MJT dethroned three-peat champions UST Tiger Judokas, collecting five golds, three silvers and four bronzes across the tournament. Gold medalists included Most Valuable Player (MVP) awardee Jayvee Ferrer in the half-middleweight class division and Rookie of the Year Fierre Afan in the lightweight class division.

Read: World Champion Afan named UAAP Judo Rookie of the Year

Meanwhile, the UP Varsity Swim Team (UP VST) made waves after earning their first championship in the women’s division since Season 79, marking this their 21st championship.

The Women Tankers raked 11 golds, eight silvers and seven bronzes accumulating 316 points and setting a new UAAP record in the 4×100 freestyle relay and women’s 50m backstroke.

The UP Women’s VST earned gold in three different events, namely the 50m backstroke, 100m backstroke and 200m backstroke while they took silver in the 50m butterfly, 100m freestyle and 200m freestyle. 

UP VST’s Camille Buico receives her gold medal during the UAAP Season 86 Collegiate Swimming Tournament. Photo by Stephen Busico

They also received individual awards with Quendy Fernandez hailed as Rookie of the Year and MVP. She was also named as UAAP Athlete of the Year for the individual sports category.

In men’s football, graduating skipper Marc Tobias converted a 50th-minute penalty to give the UP Men’s Football Team (UP MFT) its first title in six years and their 19th championship.

Read: State U wins 19th UAAP Men’s Football Championship

UP MFT was given the most individual awards in men’s football with Francis Tacardon as the Season MVP and Best Striker, Ramil Bation III as Rookie of the Year and Golden Boot recipient, while Tobias earned the Best Midfielder plum.

Read: UP notches 7 individual awards to dominate UAAP football

A three-peat title bid by the Maroon Tracksters was spoiled by the National University in men’s athletics where they tallied 302 points. Making his mark on the tracks was Alhryan Labita who secured the MVP honors for the second consecutive year, marking two new league records and five gold finishes. 

The UP Men’s Basketball Team (UP MBT) succumbed to a close silver finish against the DLSU Green Archers. Malick Diouf, in his final year, secured a spot in the coveted Mythical Five while Francis Lopez was hailed the Rookie of the Year.

Read: Redemption denied: UP bows to La Salle for back-to-back silver and UP clinches ROTY awards; Diouf takes second straight Mythical Five honor

Both the UP Women’s Badminton Team and the UP Softball Varsity walked off with silver in their respective events.

Read: Double podium: Badminton Team bags first UAAP 86 medals for UP

The UP VST Men’s Team retained last season’s placement for bronze with the feat of tallying a new UAAP record in the 4×100 medley relay.

State U tallied a total of 267.5 points, collecting four golds, one silver and eight bronzes. Matthew Alumbres was also recognized as Rookie of the Year. 

The UP Women’s Basketball Team (UP WBT) finished their bid with bronze led by Favour Onoh, who earned the Rookie of the Year title.

Read: UP MBT marches back to UAAP finals; WBT seizes bronze

For the UP Women’s Football Team, the Maroons seized back-to-back bronze finishes with Jennifer Baroin and Coline Acelo claiming the Best Defender and Best Goalkeeper awards, respectively.

State U bagged bronze in women’s fencing with Camille Belen, Ysabel Juinio, Juliana Gomez and team captain Careese Gepuela in epee and Nana Carbonell, Jojerene Gonzales, Angela Dayro and Claudette Dayro in saber.

Read: UP fencers claim women’s back-to-back epee title, end 19-year foil gold drought

Other bronze finishers were the UP Men’s Varsity Chess Team, UP Men’s Badminton Team, UP Women’s Lawn Tennis and the UP Streetdance Club.

Read: Double podium: Badminton Team bags first UAAP 86 medals for UP 

The UP Streetdance Club performs their jeepney-themed routine amid the threat of the PUV Modernization Program. Photo by Stephen Busico

Tear-jerking defeats

Unlike their men’s counterpart, the UP Women’s Track and Field Team missed the podium after slipping to fourth place with 185 points.

Other fourth placers were the UP Women’s Volleyball Team (UP WVT) in the Women’s Beach Volleyball event, the UP Women’s Taekwondo Varsity Team (UPDTVT) for Women’s Taekwondo Kyorugi and Poomsae, the UP Fencing Team in the men’s division and the UP Women’s Judo Team.

Compared to their female counterparts, the UP Baseball Team was unable to replicate their runner-up finish from last season as they finished fifth this year.

Still, not all was lost as Ian Mercado earned MVP honors, Best Hitter and Best Slugger awards while Aaron Nicha was titled as Rookie of the Year and received the Most Homeruns plum.

Other teams that fell to fifth place were the UP Diliman Taekwondo Varsity Team at the Men’s Taekwondo Kyorugi, the UP Varsity Chess Team in the Women’s Division, the UP Women’s Table Tennis Varsity Team, the UP Men’s Lawn Tennis Team and the UP Pep Squad at the Cheerdance Competition.

Meanwhile, the UP Men’s Table Tennis Varsity Team finished at sixth place. The UP Men’s Volleyball Team also secured the same standing in beach volleyball, while they placed seventh in indoor volleyball.

Read: UP meets bottom two finish in split UAAP season finale

The UP MBT and the UP WBT occupied the bottom two slots at the 3×3 Basketball Tournament with a seventh and sixth-place finish, respectively. 

Also ending at the bottom was the UP WVT in indoor volleyball at eighth place. 

Undeterred by the low placement, Niña Ytang rose to the occasion as she was named second Best Middle Blocker for the second straight time. 

‘Stronger, Better, Together’

UP will be the host of UAAP Season 87, which is scheduled to open its doors on Sept. 7 with the theme ‘Stronger, Better, Together’.

“We will really give our all to honor the great privilege of hosting an annual event,” said UP President Angelo Jimenez in a press conference last May 29.

An esports competition will also be held between Seasons 86 and 87, which would include gaming events of NBA 2k, Call of Duty and Valorant. 

“Whether you consider it as Season 86 or 87, it doesn’t matter but it is something we can look forward to,” UAAP executive director Rebo Saguisag said.

Meanwhile, discussions are still ongoing about changing residency rules for transferring.

“We’ll come up with a statement, ang haba ng debates. Very spirited discussions [are taking place],” Saguisag said, ensuring that the collegiate body is in talks of developmental changes in the league.