UP, Ateneo basketball stars doing homework despite tough UAAP season

December 4, 2018 - 12:50 PM
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UP Ateneo UAAP Season 81 Finals
Ateneo guard Matt Nieto attempts a difficult shot against UP swingman Jaydee Tungcab as Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo and the Gomez de Lian?o brothers of UP look on during Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 basketball finals at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. (The STAR/Joey Mendoza)

Fans from the Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines are attesting to their basketball players’ regard for their academics ahead of game 2 of the Blue Eagles and Fighting Maroons’ UAAP Season 81 best-of-three finals on Wednesday.

UP’s Mythical Five member Juan Gomez de Liaño was praised by a former teacher, who said that the high-flying sophomore worked hard both in the classroom and on the court.

The older of the Gomez de Liaño brothers, Javi, also got praised after a classmate related how the third-year swingman consistently contributed to group work and submitted his requirements in all his subjects.

Another classmate added that the older Gomez de Liaño went so far as to ask for feedback about an English paper and asked for points of improvement.

The trend blew up after a screenshot complaining about Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena neglecting some group work was circulated.

The King Eagle was redeemed when someone shared a screenshot showing how Ravena apologized and asked for some leeway due to the stress he experienced before the game 1 of the finals series.

From the hardcourt to the classroom

This year’s UAAP men’s basketball finalists have a number of academic achievers playing on the court.

UP’s Most Valuable Player Bright Akhuetie reportedly achieved the status of college scholar while he was working on his residency year after transferring from the University of Perpetual Health.

College scholar is the equivalent of a dean’s lister status in the state university.

In an interview with ABS-CBN Sports, the 6’8 powerhouse from Nigeria currently majoring in Physical Education said he plans to shift to Sports Science but envisions entering the corporate world and start his own business later on in life.

Captain Paul Desiderio, the clutch-time hero who led UP to its return to the finals in Season 81, is known for excelling in both hitting crucial baskets and numbers.

He reportedly won an award for “Best in Math” during his high school days at the University of Visayas.

Ateneo bigman Isaac Go on the one hand is finishing a degree in Management of Applied Chemistry, which tackles chemistry in a business context. He completed a thesis in November 2017 where he helped conceptualize a portable toilet cleaner product.

Academic and athletic demands for UAAP players

The number of academic achievers on the two squads comes to no surprise as both Ateneo and UP have consistently appeared in university rankings of the top institutes of higher education in Asia. Eight Philippine presidents were educated at either Ateneo or UP at one point. 13 of the current Senators of the Philippines also received an education from either or both schools.

The two schools have also produced a good number of businessmen, artists, writers, academics and journalists well-regarded in their respective fields.

Student-athletes are thus expected to meet the schools’ retention grades. Ateneo students are required to maintain a quality point index of 1.8 in their first year, 1.9 in their second and third years and 2.0 in their fourth year, 0 being the lowest grade and 4 being the highest grade. Those who fail to meet the retention grade can be barred from competing or worse, be barred from enrolling in the next school year.

UP athletes meanwhile enter the university through its Varsity Athletic Admission system, which entails passing several tests and tryout. Upon admission, they must enroll in a minimum of 15 units or five subjects a semester and pass at least four out of those five subjects.