Remembering the Ruthless ‘Beda-Baste’ Rivalry
Calvin Abueva was part of the San Sebastian Stags' famed "Pinatubo Trio" that took down the San Beda Red Lions in NCAA Season 85.
On Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, two of the NCAA’s most storied teams will battle in a knockout game for the right to face undefeated Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) in the Finals of the league’s 93rd season.
San Beda College is the defending champion, but for the first time in eleven years, the Red Lions did not finish the elimination round as the number one seed.
On the other hand, San Sebastian College-Recoletos looks rejuvenated after ending their three-year post-season drought.
While both teams find themselves in unfamiliar territory, die-hard NCAA fans see this ‘Beda-Baste’ match-up as a possible rebirth of a rivalry that unexpectedly came to life eight years ago.
Back in 2009, San Beda was on top of collegiate basketball scene in the Philippines. They had just won three straight NCAA championships and had no plans of relinquishing the crown. Even though two-time MVP Sam Ekwe would no longer be part of the Red Lions’ roster for Season 85, spirits were high in Mendiola because the 6’8” center from Nigeria would be replaced by the athletic Sudan Daniel from Los Angeles, California, USA.
Before he even began his rookie season in the NCAA, Daniel was already aware of the school’s rivalry with Colegio de San Juan de Letran. Having immersed himself with the San Beda community, his mind was already focused on going to war against the Knights.
That was until the Golden Stags caught his attention.
“Once I met SSC-R in the summer leagues, I noticed that they were pretty physical. More than the average teams we faced. Since then, I’ve never started games pissed off right away until I faced them,” recalled Daniel.
During that year, the Golden Stags welcomed an influx of new talent from Pampanga. The school hired a new coach in Ato Agustin, who is one of the PBA’s 40 greatest players. At the time, Agustin was also an elected City Councilor of San Fernando. With the help of his connections to the province, Agustin was also able to bring three prized rookies with him to Manila – Ronald Pascual from Sta. Maria, Mexico, Ian Sangalang from Brgy. San Nicolas 2nd, Lubao, and Calvin Abueva from Angeles City.
These three new additions came to be known as the “Pinatubo Trio”. Together, they turned San Sebastian into an instant contender for the NCAA Season 85 title.
In fact, they shocked the entire league by barging into the Finals, sweeping the Red Lions and ending their reign as champions.
Pascual, who was eventually became the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 PBA Draft still remembers how hard the Golden Stags worked to win the championship.
“Grabe kami mag ensayo talaga at yung puso at desire namin manalo ay napaka-taas. Halos makipag-palitan na kami ng mukha sa depensa. Sobrang proud namin sa batch 2009 na na-beat namin ang pinakamalakas na team na walang import at halos half ng team ay mga rookie.”
Sangalang, who became NCAA MVP in 2012 and 2nd overall pick in the 2013 PBA Draft, also agrees that being part of a team that consisted of homegrown players only motivated them greatly.
“Iba yung excitement namin dahil halos half of the team galing sa province at gusto namin may mapatunayan kami. Na challenge kami dahil All-Filipino kami tapos we had a guy like Calvin (Abueva) na talagang nakaka-intense panoorin.”
Not everybody has fond memories of NCAA Season 85. In fact, up to this very day, San Beda point guard Borgie Hermida still sees the scar above his left eye that was caused by an elbow from Pamboy Raymundo in Game 2 of their intense Finals series.
“Yung Baste noon isa sa pinaka-pisikal na team nung time ko. Yung pagiging pisikal nila is yung literal na sakitan talaga. There was a time na nagkaduguan pa nga eh,” said Hermida, referring to the Raymundo elbow that left him bloodied in defeat.
That is why just a week after losing the championship, the Red Lions already began preparations to reclaim their crown.
“Nag-plot kami ng schedule na dapat maka 100 games kami before the NCAA in 2010. Since madami grumaduate noon at madami din papasok like sila Kyle Pascual, the Semerad twins, Jaypee Mendoza at Mar Villahermosa, binuild namin yung teamwork at chemistry sa mga liga na sinalihan namin,” shared Hermida.
The result of San Beda’s strenuous off-season schedule was a historic 18-0 sweep of the NCAA Season 86 tournament. Hermida successfully avenged his defeat to the Golden Stags in the Finals and rode off into the sunset by ending his collegiate career as a champion. Meanwhile, Daniel was named MVP of the season and the Finals.
“Teams often got physical with us but we fought back with wins, bro,” said Daniel, who now works with popular basketball specialty concept store, Titan.
Following San Sebastian’s defeat, Agustin left the team to coach the San Miguel Beermen in the PBA. When NCAA Season 87 began, Topex Robinson took over his post and would go on to lead the Golden Stags back to the Finals where they were once again swept by the Red Lions.
Since then, the Golden Stags have been unable to make it back to the Finals while San Beda continued to extend its streak of success in the NCAA.
Should the Red Lions win this coming Tuesday, they will have reached the Finals for a 12th straight year. It is intriguing to think though, that San Sebastian has a brand new opportunity to shock the NCAA anew.
A lot has changed with the two teams since the time of Hermida, Daniel and the “Pinatubo Trio”. The current batch of players are not as physical as their predecessors. From a numbers perspective, you can’t even classify this match-up as a true rivalry because since 2009, San Beda has beaten San Sebastian in 18 of their 26 meetings.
Despite this, there is renewed interest in the upcoming “Beda-Baste” game because it brings back a lot of intense memories. And as always, the stakes are high when it’s “do or die”.
Catch the NCAA Season 93 Step-ladder Semifinals match between the San Beda Red Lions and San Sebastian Stags on November 7, Tuesday LIVE at 3:30 p.m. on S+A channel 23, S+A HD channel 167 and via livestream.