Past Ateneo heartthrobs you once fanned over
Barry Viloria on Dec 03, 2016 10:50 AM
Here's a fan tribute featuring some of the most admired Eagles ever! (Photo courtesy of Chalk Magazine)
Part of what makes an Ateneo-La Salle men’s basketball match more exciting than the rest is—could it be—the players? History agrees. Admit it or not, face value has become a factor for some UAAP basketball viewers, many of whom previously clueless of the sport only to get further drawn thanks to these boys’ good looks and on-court appeal. The storied rivalry became much more epic because of these heavily followed ballers, who didn’t just ace the looks department but also #skillz-wise.
The Ateneo Blue Eagles have had their fair share of these star players, too! Let the #throwback begin!
Gonzales, an ex-Ateneo Eaglet who was juniors champ in 1997, would go on to make his alma mater prouder come his turn in the seniors. "Wild, Wild Wes" was instrumental in Game Three of the 2002 Finals against La Salle, a year after they failed to claim the title from the same bitter rivals of a squad. Hence, his Finals MVP award shared with teammate Larry Fonacier. He pursued a career in the PBA, where he would play for the next 10 years up to his retirement in 2014.
Just like Gonzales, former Eaglet Fonacier played hero in Ateneo’s 2002 campaign that ended a 14-year drought. His memorable game-saving block on DLSU's Mac Cardona in Game 1 is still talked about today. He nabbed the co-MVP award for his winning play that season. He has since kept busy as a Gilas member, before becoming part-dad and part-TNT Katropa.
Alvarez grew up in Japan, enrolling at Ateneo for college. He exhibited sensational defense that helped earn him back-to-back MVP plums and a Defensive Player of the Year award. Alvarez made more use of his skills in the 2002 campaign against La Salle primarily shutting down La Salle's Mike Cortez in Game 3.
Before becoming a dad to Lucia and husband to Bianca Gonzalez, The Rocket played for Ateneo. He was part of the 2002 championship team, graduating with a UAAP Breakout Player of the Season award in 2006. Intal, of course, has now played a decade in the PBA and is currently part of the Phoenix squad.
Hail he who launched an “Iglesia!” Tiu was part of the 2008 championship team that ended a six-year drought for Ateneo, at the time Coach Norman Black took over as the squad’s mentor. The heartthrob went on to pursue other stuff that marked him as the all-around guy, playing for the national team in international tilts and becoming a youth leader. The new dad and now-businessman has since suited up for Rain or Shine.
This cherub-looking baller and then Ateneo footballer Tata Garcia made a perfect sports pair back in the day, eventually tying the knot in 2014. A chance to play in the PBA has since been elusive for American Long, mostly because he didn’t carry any Filipino blood despite having lived here since birth. He now uses his UAAP and PBA D-League experiences at the Guam Basketball Association, which inaugurated this year in Guam.
Ravena came shaking into the UAAP Seniors scene not just for the family ties. The former Eaglet simply was. Just. That. Good. Past the 3-peat and the individual awards in the younger league, he went on to contribute two more for the Eagles and nabbed back-to-back MVP awards for himself while at it. He left the UAAP last year with a career riddled with the biggest media and social media mileage any athlete could ever dream of, even subjecting himself to occasional criticisms whenever he’d get involved with another favorite UAAP player. Ravena extended his contributions to Philippine basketball as a gold-earning Gilas Cadet later on. He now works on becoming an even bigger star, training with NBA D-League team Texas Legends.
Some found Salva the quintessential douche of a jock, but we say he had the right if it were true. Maybe, it was the swag that came from treading through your entire college career with five straight wins. “I also miss our out-of-town trips,” he told us once. “Yung Las Vegas namin, yearly yan!” Salva has since followed the PBA route, recently signing with the Mahindra Floodbuster.
Recent graduate Pessumal left Ateneo the same time as Ravena. He matched his lean and boy-next-door looks with his shooting skills, making him an instant crowd favorite. Another reason behind his popularity? Getting it on with former Ateneo courtside reporter Laura Lehmann, who now plays the supportive girlfriend to the newly drafted GlobalPort Batang Pier member.
Did you know that the resident ABS-CBN S+A sportscaster used to captain the Blue Eagles. The former Southridge star also served as team manager of the Eaglets as well.
Burly but obviously one funny, gentle giant (judging from his viral videos with his family), local showbiz’s resident papathlete played the Atenista heartthrob role as well. Kramer would marry actress Cheska Garcia after graduation, and it’s why we now have these lovable social media stars behind #TeamKramer!