ATENEO and La Salle adds another chapter to a long, storied rivalry, one that dates back to the time both schools were still with the NCAA decades ago, when the Blue Eagles and Green Archers end an eight-year wait to battle for the UAAP Season 79 seniors basketball crown.
However, this season’s title showdown marks only the fifth time the two rivals will be meeting in the UAAP finals since 1986, the same year La Salle found itself in the same league with Ateneo after bolting the NCAA after the 1980 season.
The previous four championship match-ups between the two titans, though, have been one-sided so far, as Ateneo has won the UAAP title three out of the four times it battled La Salle in the finals.
SPIN.ph takes you down memory lane and gives you a glimpse of the four previous meetings of the Blue Eagles and the Green Archers.
In their first meeting for a UAAP championship, the Blue Eagles captured the crown with a 76-70 victory over the Green Archers before a packed crowd at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum. Gilbert ‘Jun’ Reyes topscored for the Blue Eagles with 16 points, while Eric Reyes and Danny Francisco each added 15. The game also featured Jett Nieto, the father of current Ateneo players Mike and Matthew Nieto.
Dindo Pumaren, meantime, starred for the Green Archers, coached by his brother Derrick, as he finished with a game-high 24 points in a losing cause for La Salle.
After a 13-year wait, La Salle and Ateneo met once again in the UAAP finals, with La Salle winning the best-of-three title series over Ateneo. Mike Cortez had 23 points, while Carlo Sharma added 22 points in a 93-88 title-clinching win in Game Three. Also playing big for La Salle were Renren Ritualo and former Ateneo Blue Eaglet BJ Manalo as the Green Archers won their fourth consecutive crown.
Then-rookie guard LA Tenorio dropped 30 points in a losing effort for the Blue Eagles.
The following year, Ateneo and La Salle engaged in another finals series to remember with the Blue Eagles winning the series decider in Game Three, 77-70. Wesley Gonzales and Enrico Villanueva scored 16 points each, while Gec Chia, Ateneo’s Final Four hero after scoring a buzzer-beater against University of the East, had 11 markers.
Manalo topscored for La Salle with 17 points, followed by Adonis Sta. Maria with 14. but the Green Archers saw their dynasty end in heartbreaking fashion, after going 13-1 in the elimination round, that one defeat also dealt by Ateneo.
The Blue Eagles began the first of their five-peat reign in 2008 when they swept the Green Archers in the best-of-three series in winning Game Two, 62-51. Chris Tiu fired 16 points as the Blue Eagles returned to glory after losing the 2003 series against Far Eastern University. Rabeh Al-Hussaini won the season MVP award while Noy Baclao captured the finals MVP when he had eight points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks in the series clincher.
JVee Casio had 18 points for La Salle in Game Two.