OPINION: With Bo Perasol out for 3 games, are the Fighting Maroons in trouble?

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What happens now to the UAAP Season 82 campaign of the UP Fighting Maroons, with their head coach Bo Perasol suspended for their next three games?

Relax, UP fans. Your beloved team will do just fine.

A run-in with referee Jaime Rivano during their September 29 game against the Ateneo De Manila Blue Eagles earned the 47-year-old mentor a three-game ban from the league. Alleged non-calls in the third period prompted Perasol to charge at the direction of Rivano. hurled expletives and assumed a fighting stance in the process.

READ — UP coach Bo Perasol releases statement on outburst vs Ateneo

In an instant, Rivano had Perasol escorted out of the hardwood floor of the Araneta Coliseum, leaving the Maroons at the mercy of the defending Seniors champions. The Blue Eagles eventually won, 89-63, over the Maroons to sweep the first round of eliminations.

With the UAAP cracking the whip on Perasol, the Diliman-based squad will begin round two without the man who guided the vastly improved program to a finals appearance in 2018.

READ — Bo Perasol suspended for the next three games

Orphaned by their head tactician for the next three playdates, will the Maroons be able to pull through?

The answer is yes. Why?

Ricky Dandan is more than an able assistant

Veteran coach Ricky Dandan is expected to assume the head coaching post for UP for the time being. A former UP head coach, Dandan has had an active role along the sidelines ever since Perasol’s hiring in 2016. Remember that immortal Paul Desiderio “atin ‘to, papasok ‘to” moment in 2017? It was Dandan – not Perasol – who drew up that play.

Check out UP’s next three games

Perasol will miss out three second round clashes – two of which are against teams they have already beaten in the first round. On October 6, the Maroons battle the FEU Tamaraws – a team they outclassed, 61-55, in their September 4 season opener. Then on October, UP takes on the UE Red Warriors, whom they defeated last September 21 with a score of 62-56. Probably their toughest matchup in that three-game stretch takes place on October 16, against their first round tormentors UST. Last September 7, the Growling Tigers – behind the foursome of Soulemane Chabi Yo, Renzo Subido, Mark Nonoy and Rhenz Abando — inflicted the first loss on the Maroons’ slate courtesy of an 85-69 shellacking.

In that game though, UP missed the services of one vital cog. Out with an injury for that match is Kobe Paras. It will be a different ballgame when Paras finally suits up against UST.

Bright and Kobe got this

With the statistical points (SP) tallied at the end of the first round, the Fighting Maroons had two of their main guns, Bright Akhuetie and Kobe Paras, perched in the top five. Akhuetie sits at the third spot with averages of 14.6 points and 12.0 rebounds per game to earn 69.0 SPs. Except for Angelo Kouame and Chabi Yo, the Season 81 Most Valuable Player (MVP) has posted better numbers against his other foreign counterparts. Paras, who’s at fourth with 65.2 SPs, has averaged 18.4 points and 5.6 rebounds through five contests. With an impressive 5-2 card, UP obviously has the tools to win more games in the second round of the tournament.

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