Best individual performances that lit up the UAAP Finals in the last 20 years

Gerry Plaza on Nov 14, 2019 10:29 AM
Best performances in the UAAP Finals the last 20 years
Clockwise: Thirdy Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Mac Belo and Jeron Teng each had memorable individual performances in the UAAP Men's Basketball Finals during the last 20 years (Photos courtesy of Arvin Lim and Josh Albelda).

Another year beckons for astonishing individual play as the UAAP Season 82 Finals begins hostilities.

We’ve witnessed how superb and cohesive team play catapulted the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles to the top of the heap with their eliminations sweep, and led the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers to crawl up the stepladder semis onto the much-awaited season finale.

But of course, the exceptional individual performances of the players were a big factor in their rise. Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena, Angelo Kouame, Will Navarro, Isaac Go, and the Nieto brothers Matt and Mike have exhibited brilliance individually when the Blue Eagles soared, as with MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo, Renzo Subido, Brent Paraiso, CJ Cansino and the super rookies Rhenz Abando and Mark Nonoy who all made sterling sole contributions to Tigers’ campaign.

When the Best of Three begins on Saturday, November 16 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, will these stalwarts’ dazzling on-court heroics, all-around play, and game dominance compare to these most exhilarating, jaw-dropping, and unforgettable individual performances in the past 20 years of the league?

1) Thirdy Ravena, Ateneo Blue Eagles, 38 points (13/18 FGs) 6 rebounds, 6 assists, Season 81 Finals Game 2 vs UP Fighting Maroons

It was a performance beyond compare as the “Thirdy Ravena Show” ignited the Blue Eagles with 38 points, stamping its class over the rampaging UP Fighting Maroons with a decisive 99 - 81 victory and bagging back-to-back UAAP titles. Ravena shot a magnificent 13-of-18 from the field, while collaring 6 rebounds, and dishing 6 assists in his monster game that earned him Finals MVP honors.

2) Jeron Teng, De La Salle Green Archers, 28 points (12/20 FGs), Season 79 Finals Game 2 vs Ateneo Blue Eagles

Game 2 of the Season 79 Finals was Jeron Teng’s final game for the De La Salle Green Archers, and boy did he leave collegiate basketball with a bang! And he made that farewell extra special, scoring 28 points, 19 of which in the first half, with a fascinating 12-of-20 field goal clip, to lead the Archers in copping the title against arch rivals Ateneo Blue Eagles.

3) Kevin Ferrer, UST Growling Tigers, 29 points (24 in the 3rd quarter), 10 rebounds, Season 78 Finals Game 2 vs FEU Tamaraws

He was waxing hot, so hot that no amount of defense could stop him. When the Kevin Ferrer inferno raged, the forward went for six triples in Game 2 of the Season 78 Finals, a total of 24 points—not in the entire game, or in one half, but in just the third quarter of the UST Growling Tigers’ finals duel with the FEU Tamaraws. That feat is considered the most points in a single UAAP period on record. It led to UST’s 62-56 victory that forced a winner-take-all with FEU, which eventually won the title.

4) LA Tenorio, Ateneo Blue Eagles, 30 points, Season 64 Finals Game 3 vs De La Salle Green Archers

LA Tenorio was just fresh off his NCAA high school stint with the San Beda Red Cubs when he already made his mark in the Ateneo Blue Eagles. And when the Katipunan cagers arranged a duel with arch-rivals De La Salle Green Archers in the Season 64 Finals, the rookie Tenorio played big time with his magical moves in his nascent appearance in a UAAP championship series. He scored 30 points in the deciding Game 3, which brought the Eagles to the cusp of winning its first title in 13 years with a double-digit advantage going to the homestretch. But La Salle legend Renren Ritualo took over the reigns in leading a spirited comeback that pushed the Archers to its fourth straight title.

5) Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Ateneo Blue Eagles, 31 points (14/26 FGs) 9 rebounds, Season 71 Finals Game 1 vs De La Salle Green Archers

This Blue Eagle scoring machine and interior specialist would not be denied his field day on court, and against nemeses Green Archers in Game 1 of the Season 71 Finals, MVP Rabeh Al-Hussaini further displayed dominance. His breathtaking 31 points on 14-of-26 shooting, plus nine rebounds made the Eagles outclass the hapless defending champs Archers onward to a 69-61 drubbing.  Ateneo would then sweep La Salle to clinch their fourth title and first in their record five-peat that lasted until Season 75. 

6) Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Ateneo Blue Eagles, 28 points, 14 rebounds, Season 72 Finals Game 1 vs UE Red Warriors

Rabeh Al-Hussaini is the lone player to land in this list twice, as he made yet another explosive and colossal Finals game the succeeding year in Season 72 against the UE Red Warriors. In Game 1, Al-Hussaini notched a double-double of 28 points and 14 rebounds, playing 34 minutes straight to lift the Eagles to a 78-71 victory over the Warriors. The series was extended to a do-or-die however, but in the decider, Al-Hussaini, adjudged the Finals MVP, again led the Eagles with another double-double, 21 points and 14 rebounds in Game 3, en route to Ateneo’s back-to-back title. 

7) Arwind Santos, FEU Tamaraws, 29 points, 14 rebounds, Season 68 Finals Game 1 vs De La Salle Green Archers

His merciless scoring binges actually started early in his impressive basketball career. Arwind Santos displayed this one-of-a-kind brilliance in the Season 68 Finals when his FEU Tamaraws faced the De La Salle Green Archers. It was a neck-to-neck battle all throughout, but Santos showed deadliness with his midrange to long-range jumpers and accuracy from beyond-the-arc, totaling 29 points and power off the boards with 14 caroms. To top it all, he sank the game-winner off a putback, 5.5 seconds remaining to give the Tamaraws a two-point 75-73 win. Santos will again tally another double-double in Game 2—14 points and 13 rebounds—bringing to Morayta its 3-peat, and its 19th title overall. He was named Finals MVP.

8) Alfred Aroga, NU Bulldogs, 24 points, 18 rebounds, Season 77 Finals Game 3 vs FEU Tamaraws

NU’s Cameroonian center Alfred Aroga is definitely the Bulldogs’ formidable, immovable force in the paint, draining putbacks, completing short-stabs, swatting opponent shots, and snaring those boards with authority. And in NU’s historic championship year, Aroga was a key factor, first making that monstrous block on Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena in the Final Four that made NU barge into the Finals. But to cap his illustrious rookie season with NU, he posted a double-double of 24 points and 18 rebounds in the do-or-die, to hand the Bulldogs its first title in 60 years and raise the Finals MVP trophy.

9) Mac Belo, FEU Tamaraws, 24 points, 8 rebounds, Season 78 Finals Game 3 vs UST Growling Tigers

This prolific scorer is known for his deadly game-winners that broke the hearts of opponents. Mac Belo did it twice—first via a catch-and-shoot corner three that eliminated De La Salle in the Season 77 Final Four, and the second in the succeeding season with a buzzer-beating putback to end the title hopes of Ateneo. And in that same season, Belo would extend his lethal ways in the Finals series against UST, giving everything he had in his arsenal in the winner-take-all, battling cramps in the key stretch, to end up with 24 points and eight rebounds for a 67-62 triumph and lift the 20th championship trophy for FEU. Belo was also awarded the Finals MVP plum.

10) Jojo Duncil, UST Growling Tigers, 18 points (8 in overtime), Season 69 Finals Game 3 vs Ateneo Blue Eagles

If there was one name that brought so much misery to an Ateneo Blue Eagles team searching for a return to glory in Season 69, it was the name Jojo Duncil, who just like the rest of the UST Growling Tigers have their own redemption in mind. Ateneo and UST stretched their Finals series to three games and in the decider, it went to overtime. This was when Duncil came and conquered, bringing the dagger to the Eagles’ hearts with clutch jumpers and a pair of free throws that held Ateneo at bay. In the end, his eight points in the extended play was what UST needed to notch “The Miracle”, holding off the Blue Eagles 76-74, and carry the championship to Espana. Duncil ended the game with 18 points and the Finals MVP honors.

Will there be similar, if not more fascinating individual performances from the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the UST Growling Tigers, who are set to clash for the Season 82 jugular? Find out on Saturday live at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, or catch on-air at ABS-CBN Channel 2, ABS-CBN HD SkyCable Channel 167, S+A Channel 23, S+A HD SkyCable Channel 166, LIGA on SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, TFC.tv, TFC, iWant Sports, and via livestream.

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