OVER the past four decades, no team has come close to University of the East's epic accomplishment of winning seven consecutive UAAP seniors basketball championships.
But if the feat will ever be matched or broken one day, Baby Dalupan wouldn't mind if it is done by Ateneo.
“Hindi natin masabi,” Dalupan, author of that unprecedented title run that started in 1965 and included one year where the Warriors were declared co-champions with University of Santo Tomas, told Spin.ph when asked about the prospects of the Blue Eagles breaking the Warriors' record.
He paused, then continued.
"… Sabagay, ‘yung coach ng Ateneo naging player ko rin sa PBA," said Dalupan of Norman Black, whom he had coached at Great Taste. “Galing ako Ateneo, nag-coach ako sa Ateneo, alumni ako ng Ateneo. Kung makukuha, bakit hindi?”
One win away from a fifth championship, Black's Eagles have come the closest to UE's great record. The UST teams of Aric del Rosario in the nineties and the La Salle squads that went on a great run under Franz Pumaren each won four titles, but fell short of a fifth.
Dalupan, however, was also the first to herald the amazing feat of his fabled UE teams, which over a seven-year period suited up great players Robert Jaworski, Rudolf Kutch, Nat Canson, Virgilio Abarrientos, Rudy Soriano, Johnny Revilla, Rey Franco, and Ernie De Leon.
So formidable was the team that there was even one year, Dalupan remembered, when the Warriors swept all their matches. At that time winners of the first-round and second-round pennant square off for the title. By sweeping both rounds, the Warriors ended up facing - and sweeping - UST in the finals, he said.
“Hindi nila napapansin na record namin na isang season kami, straight, champion. First round, second round, champion. Best-of-three walang talo. Ginawa ‘yan sa Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym,” Dalupan said.
What made those UE teams tough, among other things, was the extra practice and scrimmage the players went through with Crispa's commercial team in the old MICAA which Dalupan also coached.
“Malakas talaga ang lineup noon dahil bukod sa UE, pinapraktis ko rin sila sa Crispa na commercial team na,” said Dalupan in an interview with Spin.ph during a tribute given by the Recto-based school.
Soriano said it was discipline and a deep sense of brotherhood that took them to great heights.
“Sakripisyo lang at saka, ‘yung grupo namin parang magkakapatid,” said Soriano, himself a former Crispa Redmanizer. “Walang inggitan, bigayan lahat. Dahil na rin siguro kay coach ‘yan na magaling mag-disiplina.”
Soriano, who played power forward and center during his time, said Dalupan preached perfection on the court.
“Lahat ng sasabihin nya, ‘yun ang susundin mo. Pagka-humiwalay ka dun, mawawala ka. Kailangan kung nasaan dapat ‘yung player (sa plays), doon ka,” said Soriano.
Will the UE record even be broken, Soriano was asked.
“Mahirap ‘yun … Especially ngayon na malalaki na ang mga players tapos agawan sa kuhanan ng player. Nakakuha pa ang mga teams ng Fil-Ams,” said Soriano.
Jaworski, the most famous player from that team, said he hopes their record will be broken some day.
“Sana ma-break - ng UE (rin),” Jaworski said with a laugh.