Cebuano collegiate basketball fans who are looking forward to seeing more from Liloan-native Paul Desiderio of the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons will have to wait a year after head coach Rey Madrid confirmed that the latter has been relegated to Team B in order to let him focus on his stint with the Philippine Youth Team.
Contrary to what he said in a previous interview several months back, where he guaranteed that Desiderio’s spot would be waiting for him once he’s done with his national duties, Madrid stated that this move might be best for Desiderio as it would preserve his playing years with UP.
“Sayang din naman kasi yung playing years niya if ililista namin siya sa lineup for this year tapos makakalaro lang siya ng iilan games,” Madrid said in an exclusive interview yesterday. (It would be a waste of his playing years if we include him in the lineup for this year and he’d be able to play just a couple of games.)
Desiderio is expected to be busy for the next few months as he suits up for the national squad in two separate tournaments. He is part of the squad that will compete in the FIBA Under-17 World Championship on Aug. 8 to 16 in Dubai.
The former Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) juniors MVP is one of the anchors of the historic Philippine team that placed second behind China in the Fiba Asia qualifiers. He averaged 11 points and seven rebounds in that tournament. That earned the team a berth in the world championships, where they have been bracketed in Group A with Greece, Angola and the powerhouse United States.
Desiderio is also slated to represent the country in the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championships in Doha, Qatar on Aug. 19 to 28.
With Desiderio out this season, the Maroons hope to improve on their winless showing last year behind former San Beda Red Lion Dave Moralde and reigning Rookie of the Year Kyles Lao.