It’s baaack! La Salle versus Ateneo

Is there a rivalry that can rival this rivalry? Is there a school that abhors the other as much? Is there an institution that grimaces at the mention of the other’s name? Is there a title other than the UAAP basketball crown that both teams lust for and hunger after more than any other?The two-letter answer? NO.

The four-letter initials of these two teams? ADMU. DLSU.

The first school is color blue. Founded in 1859, it’s main campus resides in Loyola Heights, Quezon City, and it’s basketball squad is called “Blue Eagles.” Among it’s alumni is someone you and I know: Jose Rizal. And, with it’s Level IV accreditation (the highest possible) from PAASCU, it is one of only two universities in the Philippines to receive such an honor.

The other university? It’s color green. Founded in 1911, it has 18 campuses scattered around the archipelago and it draws inspiration from the life of its founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle. On the basketball floor, the team is called “Green Archers.”

Ateneo De Manila University. De La Salle University.

From their nicknames alone—Eagles and Archers—one can conclude that these two are the fiercest of rivals. Think about it: An eagle flies. An archer shoots whatever flies.

I’ve been fortunate to have toured both campuses in Metro Manila. I’ve watched their UAAP games at the Araneta Coliseum. I’ve even been, at some point, a student at both schools: at the Ateneo, I took up the MBA Regis program here and, in La Salle, studied elementary until first year high school in Bacolod.

Which team will I root for? Ha-ha. To answer that, here’s a confession: I’ve recently joined the Board of Directors of the De La Salle Alumni Association – Cebu Chapter. So there. That should settle it. I’m as green as the Boston Celtics.

UAAP. Today, Blue and Green clash in the most exciting game of the season. You see, Ateneo and La Salle both own 9-5 win-loss records. The two times they’ve met this season? Ateneo won. So this afternoon’s game at the Araneta Coliseum will be crucial as the winner will take the No.2 spot behind the University of the East (UE) and, with it, a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four semifinals.

Now here’s what made it a thrill: Last week, La Salle lost to the unbeaten UE squad (14-0 record) and thought their chances to grab that No.2 spot was lost. Ateneo, in their game last Sunday, only had to beat the hapless National University to take the No.2 spot. Believe it or not, in the “Upset of the Year” award, Ateneo lost.

Thus, Ateneo-La Salle III.

GOLF. All the suspense isn’t limited to the Araneta Coliseum. Tomorrow at the Cebu Country Club, it’s the 6th Ateneo-La Salle Golf Classic, an annual event that pits the best golfers from both schools. Unfortunately for La Salle, the blue squad has won the five previous titles. Embarrassing? Well, yes. But consider this: all alumni of Sacred Heart-Jesuit school here—and we’re talking hundreds of topnotch golfers—are eligible to play for Ateneo. And so La Salle’s been clobbered. Will it happen again in this two-day event?

“We’re outnumbered,” admits Nino Bascon, the vice-mayor of Medellin, Cebu and team captain of La Salle. “But this year our luck might change. We’ll give it our best.”

The highlight of the golf event is the match-play battle between the president of the Ateneo Alumni association in Cebu, Tony Pineda, against Dondi Joseph, the former president of the La Salle Cebu Alumni. When I spoke to Tony Pineda a month ago, he sounded excited. Informing him that La Salle’s current alumni president, Martin Ledesma, would rather have Dondi Joseph play, he said, “Sure!”

And so, this September week has landed. Will the eagle fly amidst the blue sky? Or will the green archer, with bow and arrow, aim high and shoot it down?

Blue or Green, one thing’s for sure: the loser will drip and bleed one color.

Red.

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