Green Archers shoot down the Blue Eagles


(Photo: ABS-CBN News)

At 6:15 p.m. yesterday, white confetti rained inside the Araneta Coliseum as green jerseys swarmed the court all-smiling. 

Too strong. Winner of 15 of their 16 games this season, the DLSU Green Archers added one more last night as they swept the Ateneo Blue Eagles to win the school’s ninth UAAP title.

Big Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng were unstoppable. The regular season MVP Mbala and the Finals MVP Teng combined for 46 points in Game 2 to win, 79-72.

I watched the last three quarters and Mbala doesn’t play college ball — he’s a pro-caliber star. Standing 6-foot-8, two moments stood out tallest. As seconds ticked to end the 2nd quarter, a charging Ateneo player drove down the lane.. only for his shot to be blocked (no make that, hammered) by Mbala. On the play-of-the-game and with 4:13 left in the 4th, Teng drove for a layup, missed the shot as Mbala, with both muscular arms outstretched, slammed the ball for an alley-hoop dunk.

Green and blue clash in UAAP 79

No rivalry in Philippine sports rivals the confrontation between La Salle and Ateneo.

In academics, they wage mental warfare. In business, one school brags that Danding Cojuangco started kindergarted in 1940 and finished high school in a green-colored campus; the other school boasts of Manny Pangilinan graduating cum laude (Economics). In the halls of power, Michael Dino and Bong Go finished management courses from DLSU while Carlos Dominguez III and Silvestre Bello III received diplomas whose leather covers are colored blue. But above all, the tug-of-war is best exemplified in the arena called sports.

Yesterday at 3:30 p.m., the dream finale that both campuses envisioned became real. (I did not have time to write this piece chronicling Game 1 but will focus on their history.)

The first La Salle-Ateneo skirmish happened in 1939. In the final of the NCAA men’s championship, La Salle won, 27-23. Yes, no wrong typing there; the score in that contest 77 years ago was that low. Since then, the duel has flourished.

Since 1939, the two schools have taken turns winning. The next time they met in the NCAA finals was in 1958; on this occasion, the game was high scoring (105-103) with Ateneo claiming victory. In 1974 (the last time they’ll meet in the NCAA Finals), it was La Salle’s turn, 90-80.

When the battle shifted to the UAAP, they met four times in the championship. In 1988, ADMU bested DLSU in only one game because they held the twice-to-beat advantage. Three years later, La Salle recovered the trophy, winning the Game 3 decider, 93-88. The following year (2002), it was another third-game thriller but with Ateneo victorious, 77-70. And finally, in 2008, it was a clean two-game sweep as the Chris Tiu-led Blue Eagles (with Rabeh Al-Hissaini, Nonoy Baclao and Ryan Buenafe) won with Norman Black as head coach. It would be the start of an incredible five-year winning streak for the Blue Eagles.

The next year, in 2013, who would dethrone the champs to claim bragging rights? Who else but the Green Archers. In all, both squads have won eight UAAP men’s collegiate basketball crowns. How closer can this rivalry get?

With the 2016 season, La Salle dominated. Led by the MVP (and former Cebu cager) Ben Mbala, the green team were unbeatable. In the first round, they not only demolished all their opponents but embarrassed the blue squad, 97-81. That was in Oct. 2. Then, it looked like La Salle was en route to a clean sweep of the eliminations… before one team slapped their daydream and woke them up. It was, of course, Ateneo who scored the lone upset (83-71).

Who’s favored to win the trophy? Ateneo has the momentum. They won the last time they met and have won their last six elimination games and, including the escape over FEU last Wednesday, they’ve won six of their last seven. Plus, maybe the Archers are rusty after a 10-day gap before yesterday’s Game 1.

La Salle? Heavy favorites. Prior to the Final Four, they finished with a 13-1 slate. Ben Mbala is unstoppable, playing with these regular-season averages: 20.6 PPG, 16 RPG and 2.4 BPG — all first in the league. When you study the team statistics, La Salle leads in all but one of the nine departments, including points per game (88.1 average) and rebounds (52.3 per game).

My pick? It’s hard to bet against the university located along Taft Avenue. Plus, I’m biased. I studied eight years in La Salle Bacolod and suited the green jersey as we won the city-wide elementary title. Also, my uncle Rey Pages, my dad’s younger brother, played for the Green Archers in the 1970s before he turned pro with Crispa and Utex.

My head (analysis) and history (past schooling) go with La Salle. But times have changed… since our only child Jana Marie has enrolled in the campus along Katipunan Avenue, my green mind has turned blue-blooded.

Ateneo vs. UE: The clash between Blue and Red

At 3:30 this afternoon, two colors will collide. One is red, the other is blue. The hostilities started last week. In Game 1 of the UAAP basketball finals, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) beat the University of the East (UE). That victory was expected. The leaders during the elimination round, Ateneo was dominant and authoritative. But in last Sunday’s Game 2, when the Araneta Coliseum was to have been awash in blue, the red-blooded UE squad turned their opponents blue—as in gloomy and unhappy blue. For the Red Warriors did not just defeat the Blue Eagles, they obliterated them with the score 88-68.

(This photo and the one below from

Categorized as La Salle

La Salle goes Bad!

A group of close to 20 La Sallians gathered yesterday afternoon at the Casino Espanol de Cebu from 1 to 4 p.m. to play badminton, enjoy plenty of laughs, eat pizza, sweat, and bond together as one green family.

Those who played included: Martin Ledesma (president of One La Salle Cebu Alumni Association), Rico Navarro (tournament chairman), Cholo Verches and Gerry Malixi (team captains), Leandro Diaz, Ogie Laranas, Chinky Cortes, Gabby Cruz, Leo Jiao, Tony San Juan, Amiel del Castillo, Deo and his wife Chris Dumaraos, Pepi Martinez, Willie Marana, Jason Co, Emmanuel Banares, Byrone Victor and Bobby Martinez. Also, thanks to K-LINE for sponsoring the event. Enjoy these photos!

2-0 is better than 14-0

(Photo courtesy of the top UAAP and NCAA site,

A few hours after Manny’s victory, the headline read: “2-0 is better than 14-0.”

How is that possible? It’s not. But it did happen. At the UAAP championships held at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, the winner wasn’t the team that won 14-0—it was the one who scored 2-0.

De La Salle University (DLSU), which struggled past Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) last week before entering the finals against the University of the East (UE), was the underdog against the only team that scored a 14-0 regular season record. But last Sunday—as the Cebuanos watched at Hola España—La Salle beat UE, 73-64.

Ateneo and La Salle: No rivalry comes close

(All photos courtesy of top UAAP site

You know what the best thing is about sports? You never know the ending.

Isn’t that true? Unlike movies where, midway through the drama, you have a hunch of how it will end—in sports, you never, never know. Sure, there are exceptions like two Nike endorsers named Federer and Woods, and a southpaw named MP who’ll feast on a Mexican dish this Sunday—but for the rest of the sports world, it’s the same ending: You never know.

Consider Ateneo vs. La Salle. Twice in the regular season, the Blue Eagles beat the Green Archers. That soared the spirits of the Eagles, blunted the arrows of the Archers.

Then the playoffs arrived. La Salle sharpened its blades, looked to the heavens and unleashed razor-sharp bullets. The eagle swerved, dove, flapped it’s mighty wings, evaded shots that riddled the air—until it succumbed to an arrow-pierce on the chest. La Salle won Game 3, 80-79. The green army stood up. They sang. Rejoiced. Smiled at the defeat of their most-loved enemy.

On the greens, the winner is Green

Last Thursday, the La Salle basketball squad beat Ateneo, 70-69, for the No.2 spot in the UAAP Championships. That was basketball. At the Araneta Coliseum.

Golf? In Cebu? For the past five years, Ateneo has trounced La Salle. Ever since the Ateneo-La Salle Golf Classic was established—never mind the golf course colored all-green—Green has lost to Blue.

Not anymore. Not this year. Not when I hear fellow Lasallians say, “Nobody beats us six in a row!”

Green archer hits eagle, who falls, turns blue

It wasn’t the NBA Finals. It wasn’t Manny Pacquaio vs. Marco Antonio Barrera. It wasn’t Tiger Woods or Roger Federer collecting trophy No. 3,805. It wasn’t even the Joey de Venecia expose against the First Gentleman.

It was better. La Salle versus Ateneo. Game 3. Araneta Coliseum. Last Tuesday at 3 p.m.

I arrived at Hola España minutes into the First Quarter. As I entered, Cisco Jarque smiled. Ed Gonzales sat beside him. Bobby Martinez was at the center. Brothers Chito and Mark Cusi offered me a seat while Ryan Yu sat to the left. Gerry Malixi wore green.

Green. If you weren’t green last Tuesday, you were an outcast. You had no place to sit, stand, squat, or breathe inside Hola España, the cozy resto-bar along the Ma. Luisa Estate Park road painted one color.

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.