Former Player Malick Diouf Remains Optimistic about UP Maroons’ Future
“First. I wanna say thank you, Allah, for the blessing to play in this finals and play for UP. You know, we fell short but that’s life,” said Diouf after UP fell to La Salle with a heartbreaking 73-69 loss in the winner-take-all Game 3 in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball finals on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Diouf, who left everything on the floor with 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, two steals, and two assists, encouraged his teammates to keep their heads up and use this setback to bounce back next season.
“We just talked to the boys, telling them this is not the end because they will still be there for next year. You know we have a good community always behind us. They need to focus. Be sad for now, and tomorrow, look forward and represent the UP community,” said the graduating center.
The Season 85 Most Valuable Player is graduating with CJ Cansino but he believes that coach Goldwin Monteverde still has a strong line-up, bannered by Francis Lopez, Harold Alarcon, Gerry Abadiano, JD Cagulangan, and Aldous Torculas.
“I think they’re gonna have a good future because seeing the rookies right now and you know they have [JD], like Aldous and others. I think they’re gonna go far and I wish they’re gonna go far. And like what CJ said, we will be there for them, anywhere. If they need help from us,” Diouf said.
Monteverde said they have a possible replacement for the Senegalese center but he admitted that it won’t be easy filling in the shoes of Diouf and Cansino.
“It’s an honor to coach these two players. Very talented. They were great kuyas to the team. We know they’re talented but their patience, guidance, and being true to their teammates will be hard to replace,” said the UP coach in Filipino.
“Filling in Malick’s shoes will be a tough challenge for whoever replaces him. Rest assured, knowing our culture in UP, we will work together to fill in the void left by Malick.”
Diouf, a mythical team selection of Season 86, has yet to think about his future as his priority is recovering from the injuries he sustained in his final year.
“For now before thinking about the next, I need to rest well. I have a lot of injuries. I have a fracture on my right and a fracture on my left finger and I was playing with that. I need to fix it after this and think about my next [steps],” he said.