The UAAP Season 80 officially opens at Mall of Asia Arena Saturday, September 9. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net
The UAAP recognized its glorious past as it honored former athletes who personified the league’s theme for its 80th Season: “Go For Great.”
The parade featuring the member schools’ legends across all sports was the highlight of the nostalgic opening ceremony Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The league relived its rich history by bringing back its celebrated stars from different generations.
Host Far Eastern University drew the loudest cheers when the likes of volleyball standout Rachel Daquis and basketball hotshot Terrence Romeo walked down memory lane along with the school’s other greats.
“What I really miss about the UAAP is the crowd,” said Romeo in Filipino.
Ateneo wasn’t to be outdone with its star-studded volleyball tandem of Alyssa Valdez and Marck Espejo among its greats.
One of University of the East’s biggest stars Robert Jaworski wasn’t able to attend but part of its contingent was Tisha Dominguez-Abundo, who led the school to a volleyball title in the late 60s.
“I’m still hoping for our volleyball team to wake up from its long slumber,” said Abundo.
Olympian Yan Lariba of La Salle was represented by his mother Imelda during the ceremony. Former Green Archer Renren Ritualo, the deadliest marksman during his time, was also present.
Legendary basketball coach Aric del Rosario bannered University of Santo Tomas. Del Rosario built the UST dynasty that reigned from 1993 to 1996.
Del Rosario was joined by the likes of cagers Cyrus Baguio, one of the most exciting players to watch during his collegiate career, and Dylan Ababou, who was a vital part of the Tigers’ team that ended the school’s 10-year title drought in 2006.
National University had Danny Ildefonso, who went on to win a couple of PBA MVP awards and eight titles in the pros, two-time UAAP MVP Ray Parks and rising tennis star Tin Patromonio, who recently won silver in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia.
“It feels good as an athlete that your hard work and passion are recognized,” said Parks.
University of the Philippines flaunted senator Pia Cayetano, who was the Lady Maroons’ former captain who helped bring a volleyball title to the school in the early 80s. The Maroons also had Ronnie Magsanoc, who, along with Benjie Paras, was one of the leaders of UP’s championship run in 1986.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be part of the selected few. It’s also nice to meet former greats whom you followed before but just formally met now,” said Magsanoc.
Adamson’s Ewon Arayi, who made her mark as a standout in women’s basketball, was also part of the gathering of stars.