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    Five UAAP teams that have truly built dynasties

    Apr 4, 2020
    PHOTO: Franz Pumaren and Mike Cortez screenshot from ABS-CBN coverage

    WINNING a championship is such a hard thing to do that you understand where the tears are coming from for the players who worked so hard to get to the pinnacle.

    But as hard as the endeavor was, imagine the sacrifices the teams need to do to just to capture consecutive titles.

    Since the introduction of the Final Four format in 1993, only five teams were able to win back-to-back crowns which went on to establish dynasties of their own.

    With that, Spin.ph takes a look at those teams whose reigns at the top captivated the public during their time of dominance.

    1993-1996 UST Growling Tigers


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    Nothing else shouts super team than sweeping your way to the championship -- and forcing the league to change its rules, for that matter.

    That's exactly what University of Santo Tomas did in 1993 as it not only ended a 29-year drought but also completed a 14-0 romp to outright win the UAAP Season 56 crown behind the might of Dennis Espino, who won that year's Season MVP.

    But it's not just "The Menace" who lorded down low and got things done for the black-and-gold, with veterans Rey Evangelista, Udoy Belmonte, and Melchor Latoreno also doing their part in the team's success.

    The Growling Tigers' immaculate run that year triggered changes in the UAAP, with teams going unbeaten in the eliminations now only advancing outright to the Finals.

    It hardly mattered though as UST cemented its place in the history books winning three more titles behind the genius of one Aric del Rosario.

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    Espino won the MVP anew in 1994 and got significant help from seniors Bal David, Edmund Reyes, Patrick Fran, Siot Tanquingcen, and that season's Rookie of the Year Gerard Francisco as the three-seed Growling Tigers bucked a twice-to-beat disadvantage against UE in the semis before going onto the Finals against the top-seed La Salle.

    In the deciding Game Three, it was shooter Henry Ong who stepped up and drained crucial buckets before David iced the 77-76 victory to complete the back-to-back romp.

    Chris Cantonjos picked up the cudgels in the light of Espino's graduation and kept UST's motor running as he won the Season MVP award in 1995 to sustain the run of success in Espana.

    And it's not just Cantonjos, with talents like Estong Ballesteros, Richard Yee, Dale Singson, Richie Melencio, and Emmerson Oreta all contributing to the team's success in those following years.

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    1998-2001 La Salle Green Archers

    Enduring years of heartbreak in the 1990s, La Salle sure felt great to respond with a four-peat of its own.

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    And the Taft side has no one else to thank for than coach Franz Pumaren and his patented "Pumaren press" for that run of success.

    Don Allado, who won back-to-back MVP awards in 1998 and 1999, led the Green Archers to the pinnacle while also forming a perfect combo with sniper Renren Ritualo and promising upstarts Adonis Sta. Maria, Willy Wilson, and Mon Jose.

    That crew cruised to the UAAP Season 61 title in 1998, first beating rival UST in the semifinals before sweeping FEU en route to the title.

    But there's nothing sweeter than La Salle's success the following year, with Dino Aldeguer draining the buzzer-beating three at the end of regulation in Game Three to force overtime as the Green Archers hacked out a 78-75 triumph over the Growling Tigers to repeat as champions.

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    That streak continued in the new millennium, with Ritualo now pushed at the forefront and gaining a solid backcourt partner in Mike Cortez as well as drawing big minutes from BJ Manalo and Mac Cuan, the top-seed La Salle beat FEU anew in the UAAP Season 63 Finals in 2000.

    Even the new blood flanked by Mac Cardona, Joseph Yeo, Cholo Villanueva, and Carlo Sharma were able to sustain that dominance when they entered in 2001, winning the Green Archers' fourth crown in three hard-fought games against Ateneo in the championship series with Ritualo winning the Finals MVP award.

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    That streak not only established La Salle's dynasty, but also defined the winning tradition the team has had during Pumaren's tenure in the green-and-white.

    2003-2005 FEU Tamaraws

    This one's controversial.

    Yes, we know on the court, Far Eastern University was only able to win two titles on the court.

    But the history books will always show that the Tamaraws have completed the three-peat from 2003 to 2005, owing to La Salle fielding ineligible players in Mark Benitez and Tim Gatchalian during that span.

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    It doesn't mean, though, that this FEU team was a pushover.

    Do-it-all forward Arwind Santos was the motor that kept the Tamaraws going, which made it no surprise that he won back-to-back MVP honors in 2004 and 2005.

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    Hardworking forward Mark Isip and hard-nosed playmaker Denok Miranda played perfect complement to Santos' prowess, while coach Koy Banal also squeezed big contributions from Jeff Chan, RJ Rizada, Cesar Catli, and Gerald Jones.

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    That FEU unit gained the two-seed in the eliminations and dispatched the James Yap-bannered UE side in the semifinals before shredding Ateneo in the UAAP Season 66 Finals in 2003.

    La Salle prevented FEU from repeating the following year, capped off by a painful 68-65 Game Three defeat.

    Technicalities, however, allowed the Tamaraws to secure the trophy after the Green Archers surrendered it two years later for the aforementioned infractions.

    But the next season, Santos made sure that there won't be any more complications as FEU got back at La Salle with a sweep to win the UAAP Season 68 championship -- with him also bagging the Finals MVP plum as he ended his collegiate career.

    That team, which also saw Jonas Villanueva take the lead at the point following Miranda's graduation and Bert Flores taking over for Banal at the helm, cemented the Tamaraws as one of the best groups in the 2000s.

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    2008-2012 Ateneo Blue Eagles


    Norman Black was already a decorated coach even before he got to Ateneo, but nobody expected the five straight UAAP championships he brought to Katipunan -- a feat that has never been done since Baby Dalupan steered UE to seven straight crowns in the 1960s.

    We might as well break down the Blue Eagles' five-peat to three chapters.

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    Led by court general Chris Tiu and buoyed by its twin tower combo of Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao, Ateneo beat La Salle in two games to win the UAAP Season 71 crown in 2008.

    The Blue Eagles repeated the following year, this time with Jai Reyes and Eric Salamat stepping up at the backcourt to help Al-Hussaini and Baclao deny the Paul Lee-led Red Warriors' upset bid in three hardfought duels.

    Ateneo's UAAP Season 73 conquest truly was the hardest as it was reeling from the graduation of its Al-Hussaini-Baclao combo, leaving the paint to guys like Justin Chua and Frank Golla and banking on guys like Kirk Long and Emman Monfort for leadership.

    Ryan Buenafe, though, stepped up to the plate as he powered the Blue Eagles to the title, most notably his 23-point Game Two performance in their 65-62 escape of FEU to bag that year's Finals MVP plum in 2010.

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    Arrivals of highly-touted guard Kiefer Ravena and UV transferee Greg Slaughter eased the process for Ateneo as it once again took the top seed in 2011 and beat FEU anew in the Finals for its fourth crown.

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    Black, who was then on his way to take the head coaching job for Talk 'N Text in the PBA, capped off his stint with his fifth title, sweeping UST in the UAAP Season 75 Finals with Nico Salva, who played for all five championship teams, scoring 30 in an 83-78 Game One to win the Finals MVP honors.

    2017-2019 Ateneo Blue Eagles


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    It's such a coup for Ateneo to secure the services of former Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin.

    And it couldn't come at a better time for the Blue Eagles, with the UAAP looking for a team which will be able to stop the rampage of Ben Mbala and La Salle.

    Although the Katipunan side settled for runner-up finish in their first joust against their archrivals from Taft in 2016, Ateneo came back with a vengeance the following season, sweeping La Salle to win the UAAP Season 80 championship.

    Thirdy Ravena came out of his shell that year, winning the Finals MVP honors, but got significant help from clutch forward Isaac Go, steady playmaker Matt Nieto, and Nigerian center Chibueze Ikeh en route to the title.

    It turns out, the Blue Eagles were only laying the foundation for a dynasty of their own.

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    With Ivorian rookie Ange Kouame in tow and with Mike Nieto being the team's undisputed leader, Ateneo continued to ran roughshod of the competition and whipped UP in a one-sided UAAP Season 81 championship series in 2018 to retain its throne.

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    The Blue Eagles secured their place in the history books with an awe-inspiring 16-0 run in UAAP Season 82, edging UST to complete the three-peat.

    That romp not only showed the impeccable cohesiveness of Ateneo under Baldwin's balanced system, but also gave a glimpse of the team's future with the emergence of Kouame, SJ Belangel, and Will Navarro.

    And with the way the Blue Eagles have played, it won't be much of a surprise if they can further stretch this dynasty just like their predecessors.

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    PHOTO: Franz Pumaren and Mike Cortez screenshot from ABS-CBN coverage
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