THE UST Growling Tigers might have fallen short of the coveted championship title in the UAAP men’s basketball competition once again, but what they did this season was a feat that gave us what winning the crown could deliver—revive the Thomasian spirit and unite the Thomasian community.

The Tigers did not even figure among the contenders at the start of the season. Even less were they expected to reach the Final Four and even the finals.

They were touted by sports analysts to finish the season at the bottom half of the league after a disaster of a campaign last year. But they turned every naysayer into a believer; they defied all the odds and they made us cheer “Go USTe” at our proudest again.

More than the coveted title and the bragging rights that come with it, the Tigers are already champions for proving everybody wrong since most of the people had counted them out even before the season began.

The Tigers, after being beaten and wounded last season, picked themselves up and shocked everybody. Every Tiger embodied what “comeback” meant and the Tigers were the perfect epitome of it.

Ed Daquiaog, who was probably an unknown player for some of the UAAP fans, made a name for himself as UST’s new gunner. He even barged into the Mythical Five.

Kevin Ferrer, who watched his team got banged and beaten from the sidelines while nursing an injury last season, came back with fire to anchor the downtrodden Tigers with an MVP-esque campaign.

Marvin Lee, who starred for the FEU Baby Tamaraws and was relegated to Team B in their senior squad, proved that he is worth the roster spot he was deprived of.

UST head coach Bong de la Cruz, after being deemed incompetent to replace the decorated tactician Pido Jarencio, endured all the bashing and regrouped his wards to face the mighty Tamaraws in the last dance of the competition.

I had witnessed how the Tigers came up short of the championship for three times in the last four years and I honestly did not want to live in awe anymore, every time I wonder what could have happened should things had gone a different direction.

Looking back, after two finals mishaps in season 75 and 76 as the Tigers faltered against Ateneo de Manila University and De la Salle University, respectively, the thought of losing another one was already heartbreaking. But this time, the whole UST community held their heads up high knowing that there are no “what ifs” in games. The FEU Tamaraws were simply the best this season as pundits had opined before the opening.

In spite of losing, we have achieved more than what the University is aiming for because with or without the championship, we have become stronger as a family. We may wear different uniforms and study different programs but, in the end, we are all Thomasians with the blood of a Tiger running in our veins.

The Tigers made us believe that after falling down, we can always pick ourselves up and come back with finesse. They gave us a reason to be prouder of wearing yellow and bearing UST under our names.

Deep in our hearts, we know that the team can finally win it all someday. In the words of Karim Abdul, “It wasn’t meant for us,” but maybe someday, it will be.

Thank you, Tigers for giving us a legendary season.


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