By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE University of the Philippines men’s basketball team had a magical run in its University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 81 campaign that saw it making it back to the finals after three decades.
It was one of the feel-good stories in the first half of the ongoing season of the UAAP, resonating of a team who had nothing to become something.
The Fighting Maroons are one in admitting that the huge support they have gotten from the school, alumni and other groups with similar vision like them in the last few years has done wonders in turning things around for a long-struggling basketball program.
One of the early groups to heed the call to rally behind the UP men’s basketball team was 3M Philippines, which found an all-too-familiar situation with the Maroons that coming on board to support was a “no-brainer.”
In an e-mail correspondence with BusinessWorld, Ariel Lacsamana, president and managing director of 3M Philippines, shared that their group connected with the story of the Maroons that for them to come in as a corporate sponsor did not need much convincing.
“We have always been looking for opportunities to accelerate brand recognition for 3M in the Philippines. It is also undeniable that basketball is to a certain extent the no. 1 sport here whether professional or college level… That in itself made sense. As a multinational company however, that also meant several due diligence and vetting had to be done on our part — when that was completed, discussions to understand the situation of this title-hungry team proceeded. Through NowheretogobutUP Foundation and Coach Bo Perasol, we got an overview of the situation. They shared the somewhat sad plight of the team such as facilities that needed upgrading, a training system that needed some overhaul and the overall morale that needed boosting both for the team and the UP community. Basically, they needed someone to believe in them and support them,” wrote Mr. Lacsamana, who is also a UP alumnus.
“This (UP plight) resonated with us as a company. The hunger for success as well as repeated frustration and not achieving the goal was all-too-familiar. As a company, failure and mistakes is not something we shy away from. History can tell you that — 3M — started from a failed mining venture. It is that resilience and courage to persevere that allowed the company to evolve and in fact thrive — now becoming a company with $32 billion in sales,” he added.
While 3M is no longer a stranger to athletics sponsorship, having dipped its hands in its headquarters in Minnesota in the United States, with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and Minnesota Vikings, to do such in the Philippine setting has been a great, and beneficial, experience, for the group, Mr. Lacsamana said.
“The corporate sponsorship allowed for the 3M brand to be experienced differently in a setting where they normally don’t catch us — in basketball arenas with nationwide coverage. That gave us an opportunity to introduce a familiar brand like 3M to a new audience,” said the 3M official.
Adding, “They are a source of inspiration — to us how they changed the narrative of their story and their resilience is an amazing testament to our employees. It’s win-win.”
Mr. Lacsamana went on to say that they give a lot of credit to the Maroons for the kind of season they had while also saying they take pride in being part of such a journey.
“We’ve always believed a Final 4 appearance, which they committed to from the start. Even when it was a 5-3 slate, we continued to believe. We merely gave consistent support. The pleasant surprise was the finals. They joked that we were the lucky charm — but we know for sure it was the team’s hard work and the community’s strong support that clinched it for all of us,” he said.
“Yes, there is sense of pride, the team’s win is a beautiful story of overcoming odds and challenges. We knew what they had to go through — the challenges were both internal and external. The mindset change was key. Like everyone else, this story that unfolded was energizing for us, too,” Mr. Lacsamana added
Mr. Lacsamana said that moving forward they will continue to support the UP basketball team while also exploring other avenues to give back to the community.
“Our priorities are assessed along with our available resources. We go where we can help the most while delivering exposure for the brand — it is an investment after all. In 2019, among the focused priorities include corporate social responsibility through 3M gives and still a strong support for education and science,” he said.
“We will always be a supporter for the team — cheering them on whether as a partner or in the sidelines. Season 81 is a history-making season which we are grateful and proud to be part of. We look forward to a strong season 82 for the team,” Mr. Lacsamana added.