This is the Dream Team of moments in the UAAP for 2016

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 29, 2016 06:20 PM
This is the Dream Team of moments in the UAAP for 2016
YOU MAY SAY I'M A DREAMER. Jeron Teng and the rest of DLSU were as good as advertised all throughout one of the most dominant seasons in the history of the UAAP.

From September 3 to December 7, each and every one in the UAAP’s eight member-schools dared to dream.

And now, it’s high time for all of us to join them in celebrating all the moments when their dreams came true.

10) But wait, there’s more

Not even a month has passed since the last gameday of Season 79 and moves have already been made for next year.

And these aren’t just mere moves, these are major moves that will change the complexion of the league.

NCAA champion coach Jamike Jarin transferring to National University, Olsen Racela taking over for younger brother Nash in Far Eastern University, even Boy Sablan’s seat in University of Sto. Tomas being eyed by Pido Jarencio – all moves certain to keep the UAAP as competitive as ever.

9) The future is now

Kiefer and Kevin left a year ago. Jeron followed suit this year.

And still, the UAAP will remain as star-studded as ever.

From Rookie of the Year Aljun Melecio to Most Improved Player Isaac Go, the league already has its rising stars well on their way.

Then there’s also Jerrick Ahanmisi, J-Jay Alejandro, and Paul Desiderio. And don’t even make the mistake of thinking that there aren’t any more gems waiting to be unearthed in Morayta.

8) UP fights, UP finally wins

UP has been at the bottom of the barrel in the standings and the butt of jokes for the longest time in the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament.

No more, said the Maroons in Season 79.

Posting five wins for the first time in a decade, State U returned to relevance on the basketball court behind Mythical selection Paul Desiderio, emerging talent Javi Gomez de Liano and Noah Webb, and crowd darling and team captain Jett Manuel.

They were even still in the playoff race late in the season.

While DLSU was the consensus favorite for the championship throughout the tournament, it was UP that was the consensus feel-good story throughout the tournament. That much was evident with the color maroon making its presence felt at long last during games.

Without a doubt, it was good to see the Maroons be worthy of the qualifier “Fighting.”

7) Now soaring and flying, there’s not a star in heaven that Adamson can’t reach

Much was expected from Franz Pumaren when he was tasked to call the shots for Adamson.

And still, the multi-titled mentor surprised just about everybody.

Guiding the young Falcons back to the Final Four for the first time since 2011 and there, giving a good scare to eventual champion DLSU, it was clear that Pumaren wasted no time in instilling his winning tradition.

Promising to deliver a contender to San Marcelino, the 52-year-old has proven to be a man of his word.

Making Pumaren’s feat even more impressive is that he made it happen with his blue-chip recruits still serving residency in Adamson’s Team B.

6) From garbageman to main man

With Mac Belo, RR Pogoy, and Mike Tolomia doing the heavy lifting, Raymar Jose was only more than happy to be the so-called basurero for FEU in their championship run in 2015.

Come 2016, however, all of Belo, Pogoy, and Tolomia were no longer in Morayta.

It was the “basurero” who remained.

Still, Jose proved that Filipino saying that goes, “May pera sa basura.” Averaging 11.1 points and 11 rebounds and carrying the underrated Tamaraws to the playoffs, he was a more than worthy member of the Mythical Team.

Along with being the team’s workhorse, the softspoken big also stepped up as FEU’s leader.

How far the “basurero” has come.

5) For whom does the bell toll, Big Ben?

Season MVP. Champion.

Ben Mbala muscled his way to both achievements in only his maiden season in the UAAP.

Many words have already been said about the Cameroonian.

And so, we’ll just let his highlights do the talking.

4) Bark-to-back-to-back go the Lady Bulldogs

DLSU had one of the most dominant seasons in the history of the UAAP.

However, that’s nothing – when compared to NU’s continued reign over the Women’s Tournament.

Blanking their closest competitor Lady Archers in the Finals, the Lady Bulldogs a third straight season sweep.

Yes, that means they have won 48 in a row. Yes, that means their last loss was back in 2013. Yes, that means they are a dynasty.

Oh, and did we mention that Afril Bernardino, the Season MVP, just has this habit of flirting with quadruple-doubles?

3) Which is the greener pasture?

Even before the season started, it was made clear that DLSU and FEU did not like each other.

There was the tuneup game flareup. There was the fighting words in the preseason press con. There was the fiery first encounter. There was the scalding sequel.

As if the clash of titans needed even more color, side stories of the matchup also include Aldin Ayo versus Nash Racela, title favorite versus defending champion, and Ben Mbala versus the unheralded FEU frontline, among others.

In the end, there was no doubt the Green Archers got the better of the green and yellow Tamaraws.

And still, DLSU-FEU remains a highly-anticipated matchup as long as Ayo is around and opposite him is a Racela.

It could have been the most anticipated matchup, if not for the coming back to life of…

2) THE rivalry is rekindled

In Round 1, this year, much like recent times, seemed to be another forgettable one in the storied history of Ateneo-La Salle.

Then, the Green Archers ran their rivals off the court, 97-81.

And then Round 2 came along and the Blue Eagles were flying high. So high that their foremost foes couldn’t keep up with them en route to an 83-71 decision

That was DLSU’s first and only loss in the season. The title favorites were proven to be mortal after all – and it came by the hands of their archrivals.

An Ateneo-La Salle Finals, the first after eight seasons, was just the fitting end to the revival of the fiercest rivalry in the Philippines.

After some lean years, we should all be thankful that the fire is back in Ateneo-La Salle.

1) Championship, not bust

Arrivals – Coach Aldin Ayo. Justine Baltazar. Ben Mbala. Aljun Melecio. Ricci Rivero.

Returnees – Andrei Caracut. Kib Montalbo. Jason Perkins. Prince Rivero. Julian Sargent. Jeron Teng. Abu Tratter.

That’s how stacked DLSU’s lineup was in Season 79.

And so, championship expectations were nothing but justified.

Fortunately for the faithful in Taft Avenue, their boys did nothing but meet those expectations.

Losing only once through 17 games, the Green Archers completed one of the most dominant seasons in the history of the UAAP.

And making their championship even sweeter, they swept their archrivals in the Finals.

Now, that’s what you call a dream season.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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