Top 15 moments of the Ateneo-La Salle rivarly in the past 15 years
Paolo Mariano on Oct 04, 2015 09:31 AM
(Photo: Arvin Lim/ABS-CBN Sports)
It’s that time of the year again. No, it’s not early Christmas preparations. Undoubtedly the most storied rivalry in the history of collegiate hoops is here anew. Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University will face off for the second time this Season 78.
What began as an ordinary school-to-school competition in the mid-century has evolved into an annual national sporting spectacle.
Since their entry to the UAAP—Ateneo in 1978 and La Salle in 1986—the archrivals have faced each other 75 times, with the Blue Eagles leading, 43-32. Five wins of the Green Archers in 2004 and 2005 were nullified after fielding ineligible players. They are currently tied for number of UAAP championships at eight. The Men in Blue, however, own the number of the Taft quintet in their finals match-ups, 3-1.
This Sunday, the animosity, the electricity, and the intensity will boil over once again. Expect nothing but fireworks and frenzied celebrations. Will Ateneo add to its win total or will La Salle close the gap?
While the answer is still up in the air, here are the top 15 moments of the unparalleled rivalry in the past 15 years.
15. It Ain’t Over Till it’s Over
2010 First Round
July, 24, 2010
Controlling most of the game, Ateneo led by nine points, 62-53 with less than four minutes left in the final quarter. But La Salle refused to give up, unleashing a killer 13-1 run, highlighted by two booming three -pointers from sweet-sniping sophomore Joseph Marata. The Green Archers eventually stole the game, 66-63. The Blue Eagles had two chances to send the game into overtime but Justin Chua clanked both of his attempts from long range. Aside from drawing first blood in their Season 73 head-to-head, La Salle also snapped its six-game losing streak against Ateneo.
14. Hefty Lefty Delivers
2014 Second Round
August 17, 2014
After being trashed in the first round, La Salle wanted nothing but vengeance versus Ateneo in their second rendezvous. A furious rally by the Blue Eagles cut the Green Archers’ lead to only one, 82-81 with less than 40 ticks left in the game. Jason Perkins, however, scored on a tough fall-away jumper over Ponso Gotladera with the shot clocking winding down, which proved to be the game-sealing basket. “Hefty Lefty” finished with 18 points, while Jeron Teng put up a game-high 32 markers, including 21 in the first half and 17-of-20 free throws overall.
13. Teng-k you!
2013 Second Round
September 1, 2013
With only 14.5 seconds left in a see-saw battle, Kiefer Ravena tied the count at 64 with a double pump lay-up. So who else did La Salle go to? Jeron Teng penetrated and scored on a turnaround jumper against Chris Newsome with 1.5 ticks remaining to give the Green Archers the victory. Prior to the shot, Teng only had a single field goal after being saddled with foul trouble all game long. But that didn’t deter him from commanding responsibility. The Taft-based crew swept Ateneo in the elimination round for the first time since 1998.
12. Five Times the Charm
2007 UAAP Season
Fans of both schools were treated to a dream season in 2007 as the bitter rivals faced each other a record-tying five times. Ateneo prevailed in the head-to-head, 3-2, winning the two elimination games and one playoff game. La Salle, however, nailed the two most important ones: the tie-breaker for the twice-to-beat incentive and the deciding game in the semifinals, which earned them a date with unbeaten University of the East (UE) in the finals. Supporters were treated to five cardiac ballgames as the squads were only separated by an average margin of 2.4 points.
11. The Big Rabeh-lation
2008 Finals: Game 1
September 21, 2008
Dominating all season long, Rabeh Al-Hussaini proved why he was a lock as season MVP as he led Ateneo to a 69-61 win with a monster 31-point performance. La Salle had no answer for Al-Hussaini as he scored in a myriad of inside moves and close jumpers. His huge effort couldn’t come at a better time for the Blue Eagles’ as Chris Tiu struggled for only two points. Al-Hussaini scored 20 of Ateneo’s 33 points in the second half as he delivered a classic performance in front of over 22,000 fans at the Big Dome.
10. Eagle Eyes on the Prize
2012 Final Four
September 29, 2012
After topping the elimination round, Ateneo held a twice-to-beat advantage over La Salle in the Final Four. But it looked like the Green Archers would force a do-or-die, leading by twin digits in the payoff period. Then Ravena happened. The King Eagle scattered 16 of his then-career-best 28 points to spearhead a blistering 22-6 run. La Salle never recovered and the Katipunan boys stole the game, 66-63. Ravena also tallied 12 rebounds and six assists in a virtuosic showing. Ateneo eventually defeated University of Santo Tomas in the Last Dance for its fifth straight diadem.
9. Nobody But Tiu
September 27, 2007
After being held to a solitary point in the first half, Tiu came alive when it mattered the most. He scored five straight points in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning lay-up with 7.3 seconds left to give Ateneo the 65-64 win and force a deciding match for the right to face UE in the finals. La Salle actually controlled most of the game, holding two six-point leads in the final frame before Tiu’s heroics. The Green Archers had the chance to steal the game but Bader Malabes missed his three-point shot as time expired.
2008 Finals: Game 2
September 25, 2008
Still an unsettled issue today, Rico Maierhofer allegedly flashed the dirty finger in the closing minutes of the third quarter with Ateneo slightly ahead, 49-43. Maierhofer claimed it was his index finger and pleaded with the referees, but to no avail. He was ejected for his second technical foul (he was whistled for taunting earlier) and dealt a major blow to La Salle’s hopes of forcing a win-or-go-home Game 3. Without the high-leaping forward from Puerto Galera, the Blue Eagles coasted to a 62-51 win and took home their second UAAP championship in six years.
7. One Big Fight (Literally)
2003 Final Four
September 5, 2003
With 1:31 remaining in the fourth quarter and Ateneo leading, 65-63, L.A. Tenorio and Jerwin Gaco figured in a fight that erupted into a bench-clearing fiasco. Tenorio sneakily punched Gaco in the ribcage during a dead ball situation. The burly Green Archer didn’t appreciate and quickly retaliated with a chest nudge. La Salle eventually won the game in overtime, 76-72 and forced a rubber-match. Tenorio, Badjie Del Rosario, and Ryan Araña, who all had a physical role in the fight, were suspended in the do-or-die game, which was won by the Blue and White, 74-68.
5. Ren-Ren to the Rescue
2001 Finals: Game 1
September 27, 2001
It’s almost impossible to make this list without Ren-Ren Riutalo. One of the most feared clutch performers in UAAP history, Ritualo came through in crunch time once again. After Ateneo cut the lead to two with under a minute left via back-to-back three-point plays from Rich Alvarez and Tenorio, the graduating Ritualo, who struggled throughout the game, sank a cold-blooded left corner jumper with 40.8 seconds for a 71-67 lead. That clipped the wings of the Blue Eagles, who missed their shots in the ensuing possessions, enabling La Salle to escape with a 74-68 win.Â
4. Enter The Phenom
2011 First Round
July 16, 2011
Zero—that’s the number of points Ravena scored in his first ever UAAP senior’s game against Adamson University. It was upsetting for the much-hyped rookie, especially with the way Ateneo fans eagerly awaited his debut. So what better way to bounce back than punishing La Salle? “The Phenom” stormed out of the gates, pumping 14 of his game-high 24 points in the first quarter. He scored on an array of moves from various spots on the floor, proving to everyone that his lackluster maiden performance was a fluke. The Blue Eagles won the game, 81-72.
4. Good Sharma
2001 Finals: Game 3
October 16, 2001
In 2001, Enrico Villanueva was the UAAP’s best big man. But in the sudden-death Game 3 of the Finals, Carlo Sharma showed that he can battle with the best of them. Then an unheralded rookie, Sharma scored 11 of his career-high 22 points in the fourth quarter to lift La Salle to a 93-88 win and complete a rare four-peat. Sharma handcuffed Villanueva as well, limiting him to only five points. He stepped up at the most opportune time with reliable veterans Manny Ramos and Michael Gavino sitting out the game due to health issues.
3. Cool Cat Gets Cold Feet
2002 Finals: Game 3
October 5, 2002
No matter how fantastic Mike Cortez was during his UAAP days, people will always remember his choke job in Game 3 of the 2002 Finals. “The Cool Cat” went cold from the field as he shot an atrocious 2 of 13. Ateneo triumphed, 77-70 to end its 14-year title drought. The win also denied the Green Archers their fifth straight championship. Cortez’s no-show in the knockout affair led La Salle students and alumni to speculate that he threw the game. Cortez denied the rumors and applied for the PBA Draft after his storied UAAP career.
2. It Was All Yellow
2009 First Round
August 9, 2009
In a display of sportsmanship, supporters of both teams decided to wear yellow shirts instead of their usual school colors to show respect for Corazon Aquino, who passed away just days before the game. What resulted was a sea of yellow cloaking the Araneta Coliseum one Sunday afternoon. It was a memorable event as the archrivals chose to set aside their egos to honor the late President. Although the game only had one winner (Ateneo beat La Salle, 76-72 in overtime), what was important was that the schools showed they can co-exist in unity’s name.
1. Larry’s Block Party
2002 Finals: Game 1
September 25, 2002
Easily the most recognizable Ateneo-La Salle moment, Larry Fonacier twice blocked Mark Cardona’s game-tying attempts in the dying seconds to preserve the Game 1 win for Ateneo, 72-70. After Villanueva sank two free throws to give the Blue Eagles the lead with 9.2 ticks remaining, La Salle, with no timeouts left, quickly inbounded the ball to the fearless Cardona. He raced to the other end of the court. But Fonacier was there to defend him and perfectly anticipate his patented semi-hooks. Fonacier then raised his hands as time expired with Cardona slumped on the floor.