Following a career performance, all Paul Desiderio could say was, “Naglaro lang ako.”
The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons’ main man was never one for talking, and just lets his game speak for him.
His statement was loud and clear last Saturday as he fired a career-best 30 points on top of six rebounds and five assists, to lead the Fighting Maroons to a big win over defending champions De La Salle University Green Archers.
Scoring the most points by a player from Diliman since 2003 — all while proving that State U is serious in their contention — Desiderio was hands-down the SMART/Chooks-to-Go UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week from Sept. 18 to 24.
Even after besting teammate Jun Manzo, Ben Mbala of La Salle, Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo, and Papi Sarr of Adamson for the weekly citation, the 20-year-old was at a loss for words.
“Wala akong masabi. Nagpapasalamat lang ako sa mga teammates ko kasi tulong-tulong kami para manalo,” he said.
Indeed, UP head coach Bo Perasol said Desiderio’s “excellent performance” was also made possible by the other guys.
“His teammates are his unsung heroes. They pass the ball to him, they rebound for him, they set screens for him, they do the little things for him,” he pointed out.
Desiderio started the season slow, averaging 13 points on 26.3 percent shooting, but busted out 28 points to shoot the Fighting Maroons over the University of the East Red Warriors a week ago.
“Medyo gigil pa ako first two games, pero ngayon, okay na. Nag-relax na ako,” he said.
Against the defending champions, the pride of Cebu was even hotter, swishing six of State U’s 16 total triples.
While Desiderio was never one for talking, opponents have no choice but to talk about him.
Last week, Red Warriors mentor Derrick Pumaren said, “I think Desiderio killed us.”
Not long after, Green Archers coach Aldin Ayo said, “Ginawa na rin sa amin ni Desiderio ‘yun before so we prepared ourselves for that, pero our players did not respond.”