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UAAP finals losses in last year of eligibility fuel UP's Cagulangan

MANILA, Philippines – It’s been a couple of months since, but graduating UP guard JD Cagulangan continues to hold near the sting of his most recent UAAP finals loss at the hands of the DLSU Green Archers last December.

They were on the doorstep of UAAP glory in late 2023, when they drew first blood in the best-of-three finals series, with Cagulangan, CJ Cansino, and Malick Diouf leading the charge. 

But reigning Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao and the rest of the Green Archers proved too much for the Maroons, failing to clinch their 2nd title in the last three seasons.

Now with Cansino and Diouf having moved on from UP, Cagulangan hopes to leave a winning legacy as he plays out his final year with the Maroons. Drawing inspiration from Season 86, the guard is looking to go all out.

“‘Yung last season, sa akin mas mabigat siya. I came from that school, La Salle ‘di ba? Gusto kong manalo that year, especially La Salle ‘yun, and ‘yung community pa ng La Salle,” said Cagulangan, who transferred out of La Salle.

“Suddenly, hindi namin nakuha ‘yung panalo. Until now, dala-dala-dala namin siya pero ‘di namin siya bitbit-bitbit at ‘di namin pwede siya kalimutan. Nandyan lang siya (‘yung sakit).”

Cagulangan clarified that it’s not that he hasn’t moved on from what had happened, rather, that he’s eager to not have it happen again when UAAP Season 87 comes around.

“Kumbaga kung nandoon na kami sa point na ‘yung mga katawan namin sumusuko na, ‘yung utak namin sumusuko na, babalikan namin ‘yung (Season 86),” he said.

But it’s not just going to be about who wants it more this time around, with preparations still playing a crucial role, and for the Fighting Maroons, the preparation started as early as January. 

Now with the preseason tournaments looming, Cagulangan can’t help his excitement to get the work done.

“Super excited. After the series (versus La Salle), makikita mo na all of us are down talaga. Ayaw naming harapin ‘yung Christmas namin na malungkot. Pero Coach Gold (Monteverde), sinabihan niya kami na we’ll start by second week of January,” said Cagulangan. 

“Until now, tinatrabaho namin lahat and hopefully, lumabas siya lahat sa season namin.”