THROUGH the years, the proud basketball programs of Ateneo and La Salle have been among the biggest fodders of talent to the PBA.
And it couldn't be more true than in the past few years, which has seen the two schools consistently account for the bulk of players making it to the opening-day rosters of PBA ballclubs.
Yet it's hard to believe that through the pro league's 45 years of existence, no one from Ateneo or La Salle who suited up for their respective schools, either in the UAAP or in the NCAA, has a PBA MVP award.
Surprising, isn't it?
For Ateneo, the last player to be in consideration for the MVP award was Japeth Aguilar as the Ginebra forward finished fourth in the 2018 voting. He made it to the Mythical First Team as a consolation.
That year's honor, unsurprisingly, went to San Miguel center June Mar Fajardo, who handily won his record-breaking fifth MVP award over then-NorthPort guard Stanley Pringle.
In La Salle's case, Mac Cardona was the last former Green Archer to be in contention for the MVP award back in 2009.
Then with TNT, "Captain Hook" was one of the nominees yet surrendered the trophy to eventual winner Jayjay Helterbrand of Ginebra.
There were a few close ones too, especially in the case of former Blue Eagle LA Tenorio.
In 2010, Tenorio, who was then with Alaska, lost to B-Meg's James Yap, who took home his second MVP trophy.
Yap garnered 2,577 votes against Tenorio's 1,038. His Aces teammate Sonny Thoss and San Miguel's Jay Washington were also nominees for that plum.
But there's really nothing closer than in 2013, when Petron's Arwind Santos narrowly beat Tenorio, who was already in Ginebra then, by a mere 21 votes.
Santos accounted for 2,840 votes against 2,819 for Tenorio in what was easily one of the closest votings in PBA history. Also among the candidates that year were TNT's Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo, and Alaska's Calvin Abueva.
There were other former Blue Eagles and Green Archers who found themselves in the running for the MVP award, yet none of those were able to pull through.
Red Bull's Enrico Villanueva, an ex-King Eagle, found himself in contention in 2006 but faded to a distant third. James Yap won the MVP that year - his first - by edging his Purefoods teammate Kerby Raymundo.
Alaska forward Don Allado, a former King Archer, settled for a place in the Mythical First Team in 2002. Willie Miller won the MVP that season, besting Red Bull teammate Davonn Harp, Coca Cola's Jeffrey Cariaso, and TNT's Vic Pablo.
Gilbey's Gin guard Vince Hizon came under consideration in 1997, but the former Blue Eagles gunner was left in the wayside in the two-man race between Purefoods' Alvin Patrimonio, who eventually won the MVP, and Alaska's Johnny Abarrientos.
Former Ateneo champion guard Olsen Racela found himself twice in the Mythical First Team in the 2000 and 2001 seasons, but both MVP awards from those years went to his San Miguel teammate Danny Ildefonso.
Alaska's Jojo Lastimosa, who played briefly for Ateneo, was also in the running thrice, but wasn't able to bag the MVP in 1991 (lost to Patrimonio), 1996 (to Abarrientos), and 1998 (to Aces teammate Kenneth Duremdes).
It was the same case for La Salle and Ateneo during their time in the NCAA.
Toyota's Francis Arnaiz, a former Blue Eagle, was in thick of the race thrice but failed to cop the MVP award in 1975 and 1976 (both to Crispa's Bogs Adornado), as well as in 1982 (to Tamaraws teammate Ramon Fernandez, his first of four).
La Salle legend Lim Eng Beng also came under consideration in 1978 during his time with U-Tex, but that season's MVP went to Robert Jaworski, who nosed out his Toyota teammate Fernandez, as well as the Crispa duo of Freddie Hubalde and Philip Cezar.
There's a bit of an outlier, however, when it comes to this discussion.
A Lasallian in Ricardo Brown, who was easily the best player of the Great Taste franchise, won the 1985 PBA MVP award and was part of six Mythical First Teams.
Before enrolling in La Salle, the 6-foot-1 Fil-Am had already studied at Centenary College in Louisiana, Yavapai College in Arizona, and Pepperdine before he was picked by the Houston Rockets in the third round of the 1979 NBA Draft.
Although "The Quick Brown Fox" donned the Green Archers jersey in his lone year in Taft back in 1982, those were all in club competitions.
According to multi-titled PBA coach and former Green Archer Jong Uichico, Brown was unable to represent La Salle in the collegiate leagues after it left the NCAA in 1981. The school had to wait until 1986 before it was admitted to the UAAP.
By that time, though, he was already tearing the house down in the PBA in the first steps of his legendary career that led to his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame in 2009 and being recognized as a part of the league's 25 and 40 Greatest Players.