Manny Pacquiao and UST’s sports program have something in common—their sudden fall from supremacy.

There will always be an instance wherein champions are pulled back to the ground to remind them that they are mere mortals.

Pacquiao fell prey in the hands of long-time nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez last December. UST has just stepped down as UAAP’s overall champion, a post it held dearly for 14 consecutive years.

Pundits said the Filipino boxing superstar might have been too distracted. Apart from being a fighter, he is also a politician, not to mention a bible preacher. Some said he is not getting any younger, as he was unable to anticipate Marquez’s right counterpunch that knocked him unconscious on the ring.

But unlike Pacman, getting old is not a problem for Team UST.

The black-and-gold contingent should put up a stronger fort each season in defense of the title, given that other teams are not too far behind. The downfall should serve notice that UST, which had lorded over the league for many years, is not unbeatable. Even champions like Pacquiao fall down flat.

Ironically, the loss took place just when UST put up a new haven for the athletes—the Quadricentennial Pavilion —a training facility expected to fortify the University’s hold of the throne in the UAAP. Incidentally, UST found itself in an unfamiliar territory, lagging behind first-time champions De La Salle University.

What happened? What might have caused the unforeseen rout?

As I ran my eyes over the figures, I noticed that there were teams this season that failed to live up to the expectations, not as much as the number of team which exceeded expectations.

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The women’s volleyball team, for example, failed to enter the final four this season—a far-cry from its feat in the past decade wherein it never missed any trip to the final four. The men’s team, which recorded four-consecutive championships, had its worst record in eight years, slumping to fifth place. Likewise, the football team normally finishes at second place, but eventually skidded to fifth spot.

But for whatever reason—injuries, academic deficiencies, undermanned and rookie-filled rosters, among others—two things are likely: UST will stand up anew as a champion and reclaim glory, just as Pacman rose to adversity like a champion, and with all humility.

Pacquiao, despite his stunning defeat, remains a legend. His name still etched on the column of the greatest boxers in history. Likewise, UST has not lost its golden luster in collegiate sports.

What is one season of unfortunate events to 39 years of supremacy in the UAAP? Besides, UST remains the winningest school in the premiere collegiate league with 39 titles, not to mention 15 and 14 years of winning streaks. UST is an overachiever. There is nothing to feel bad about.

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Looking at the brighter side of the story, the event that unexpectedly gave UST’s crown to La Salle is reminiscent of the distant past.

In 1998, UST was gunning for its 16th straight title when University of the Philippines got in the way. The loss, however, sparked another mighty streak of UAAP supremacy—14 years of dominance, as we know it today.

Who knows, next time it would be 15, 20 or even 25 years?

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It is not next to impossible as long as UST continues to breed gritty and passionate athletes.

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