THE GRASS ISN’T ALWAYS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE, THIS TIME IT IS

DLSU WINS UAAP 76 MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

Words by: Rosario “Chats” A. Santiago

The Green Archers captured season 76 title

THe Green Archers captured season 76 title

October 11, 2012. The Ateneo Blue Eagles have swept the UST Growling Tigers to claim their historic five-peat championship in the UAAP. In so doing, the Hail Mary squad also exorcised the demons from six years before, when it fell to the boys of La Naval in game three of season 69.

September 18, 2013. The two protagonists from last year’s UAAP finals were back in action against each other. And perhaps, depending on how one looks at it, in an encounter that was far more crucial than their bout 11 months ago. This time, they were fighting for survival, a chance to stay alive this season, for the last slot in the Final Four. For the boys of Katipunan, this do-or-die scenario was something they hadn’t known in a while. And despite a gallant third period stand, at the end of 40 minutes, it was time to say goodbye – to the glory of the five-peat; to the dream of a sixth straight crown. And so the brave crew from España hopped on to the last bus to season 76, where they were to face the NU Bulldogs, the number one squad all season long.

As it turned out, the Tigers would overpower the Bulldogs in straight games en route to a return trip to the finals, where the De La Salle Green Archers were waiting. For both squads, this championship probably had a deeper significance beyond the obvious. For the Taft-based crew, this was the much-coveted prize at the end of what had been a long, bleak, and often disheartening tunnel. The boys in green had not been back in the final dance since losing their crown to Ateneo in season 71. For UST, this was another precious shot at the title, and they were eager to accomplish what they couldn’t last year against the Blue Eagles.

Each year, days before the start of the men’s basketball championship, all sorts of historical data would come out in the papers, or go viral on the net. Things like, “X times out of Y, the winner of game one goes on to bag the crown,” and so on. Well, the first game went pretty much the way of the opening encounter between UST and Ateneo in season 69. Oh wait, if we’re to speak in terms of the final score alone, it went EXACTLY like that game between the Eagles and Tigers seven years ago, ending with a tally of 73-72. Back then, ADMU edged UST at the final buzzer. This time, it was UST that escaped with the squeaker over DLSU.

While the second game of this year’s finals wasn’t a blowout like the 87-71 drubbing of the Eagles by the Tigers in season 69, it did also favor the first game casualty, with De La Salle bouncing back to even the series via a 77-70 victory. So it was that a rubber match became necessary.

But everyone was forced to sit back, relax, and take a very deep, long breath since it would be a week between games two and three. With the second game falling on a Saturday, it was unthinkable to have what was sure to be a sellout winner-take-all match on a weekday, so there was no recourse but to schedule it for the following weekend. True enough, tickets to the last playing date for UAAP season 76 senior’s basketball were practically impossible to score.

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