EVAN Nelle has had his fair share of rivalry games in his young career, but he admits there's nothing quite like playing in an Ateneo-La Salle match.
And for him, Tuesday's UAAP face-off between the two sides is a dream come true.
"I’ve always dreamt of playing an Ateneo-La Salle game ever since I was a kid. This is a dream come true for me," he said after putting up a season-best 20 points, four steals, two rebounds, and two assists in the Green Archers' 75-68 loss to the Blue Eagles.
Nelle relished playing in front of a packed crowd as 11,124 trooped to the Mall of Asia Arena to watch the archrivals lock horns.
It's a refreshing sight for the 5-foot-10 guard who had his first taste of the rivalry game 11 days prior behind closed doors.
"It was nerve-wracking seeing the crowd," said Nelle of the crowd - majority of which wore pink in support of the presidential candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo that blurred the traditional battle lines between the two schools.
"Di ko ma-distinguish kung sino, which is which, and I don’t know where to look, but it was really fun experience."
Nelle also couldn't help but compare the environment to that of San Beda-Letran, noting the heightened animosity between the NCAA rivals as he said, "The San Beda-Letran crowd gets to your skin and they're saying different things."
It's quite different in Ateneo-La Salle duels, he said.
"Come Ateneo-La Salle it's like, did you even see like Ateneo was cheering for us? They were clapping for us and that was mutual respect. So that was kind of how different the two are," he said.
Getting his first full crowd experience of the rivalry game, Nelle is hopeful to get another chance at the mighty Ateneo as La Salle looks to soon end its seven-game losing streak against its rivals.
"This is the best rivalry in the Philippine sports, so I hope this season we’ll get to face them again with full capacity fans," he said.