Posted by: sportsandbeans | October 8, 2007

UAAP Finals Swing- DLSU Wins It All; UE’s Rise and Fall

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(Photo courtesy of RPSports.com)

By Migs

After 63 games, including a series of stepladder matches that saw all contests being decided by less than 10 points, a season wherein a Growling Tiger emerged as the league’s Most Valuable Player, after a season which saw the emergence of a formerly oft-maligned Ateneo Blue Eagles center, after a season which saw a team go totally unblemished through the first two rounds towards gaining an outright UAAP finals berth, and after 20 days of inactivity for the mighty UE Red Warriors, the UAAP has a new champion.

That champion is one clad in green, with bow and arrow in tow.

Yesterday afternoon, the De La Salle Green Archers validated their return to prominence with a resounding 73-64 victory over the stunned UE Red Warriors. After romping through rounds one and two of the 70th Season of the UAAP, the Warriors went on a 2 game slide. Unfortunately for them, the two bouts they came up on the short end of were those which mattered the most in the greater scheme of things.

Archers JVee Casio and Cholo Villanueva were named co-UAAP finals MVPs, and in front of a jam-packed Araneta Coliseum in Cubao city which house 18,067 paying patrons, De La Salle ascended to the ranks of college basketball’s elite once again, while the UE, which, conceivably, had all the momentum in the world coming into this exciting, albeit brief, finals series, ended up singing an all too familiar tune- one which spoke of relinquishing an edge, and handing over the Holy Grail of success on a silver platter for the opposition to enjoy.

Back in 2002, the UE Red Warriors, led then by James Yap, Paul Artadi, Ronald Tubid, and Nino “KG” Canaleta came into the UAAP final four at second place. They faced the then Larry Fonacier, Rich Alvarez, and Enrico Villanueva spearheaded Ateneo Blue Eagles, who, with the help of the unwavering faith, the Man upstairs, and a deadeye jumper from reserve Gec Chia, kicked the UE Red Warriors to the curb. The Blue Eagles defeated the De La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP finals that year towards winning their first title, then, in 14 seasons.

Last year, the UE Red Warriors entered the final four, again, in 2nd place. The controversial Bonifacio “Bonbon” Custodio was then the team’s star, and due, in part, to Custodio’s off-court shenanigans, the Warriors were left without a primary scorer in their second game loss against the eventual champions, UST.

Yesterday did not only mark De Lasalle University’s 7th championship, on the 7th day, of the 7th year of the new millennium, but it also heralded the entry of the UE Red Warriors into the a dark room in the hallowed halls of UAAP history reserved for those who, despite showing a ton of promise, end up wilting under the pressure brought about by expectations tied into being the forerunner for grabbing glory by the horns. How the institution will rise up from this disappointing defeat is anybody’s best guess. The Ateneo Blue Eagles suffered a very painful loss in the 2006 UAAP finals. They followed up the mentioned setback with a trip with a 3rd place finish in the 2007 season. Not bad, if you asked me.

Furthermore, De La Salle followed up being UAAP pariahs with being the kings of the hardwood. So you see, nothing is impossible.

Ending UE’s 22 year title drought is, actually, beside the point here. At least one win in the finals would have dispelled talk of UE being a team full of chokers.

Because De La Salle manufactured a sweep, Borboran, Lee, Arellano, and co. will have to deal with donning even a little bit of the “choker” label for some time to come.

I don’t think that Coach Dindo Pumaren can be blamed for the Warriors’ collapse. Yes, this is not the ‘85 squad with Caidic and Codinera and Jimmy Mariano for a mentor on the sidelines, but hey, I think that the younger Pumaren ought to be given credit for getting as far as he did, despite talk that the team being one absent of a “superstar”/go-to-guy was a sign that it wouldn’t make too much of a dent on Season 70. The 2007 UE Red Warriors won ballgames on teamwork and emphasis on basketball fundamentals like spacing the fastbreak defense and offense.

Being in the finals posits an atmosphere that differs very much from being involved in an elimination game. I think that the boys in red weren’t quite prepared for the pressure of being a 14 and 0 finalist. Additionally, I think that that pressure, coupled with the knowledge that the Green Archers were hot, and were experienced in terms of dealing with championship situations, thrown in with the fact that they had come off a 20 day basketball hiatus made the Warriors doubt themselves well before tipoff in game 1. The effects of being under duress showed glaringly. 32 turnovers in the opener, followed up by 21 in the second game? Missed freethrows at critical moments? A normally stifling halfcourt press quelled by thousands of eyes expecting you to totally trample upon the competition? A normally efficient motion offense gone sour due to the death of usually torrid shooting and the proliferation of missed layups?

With all due respect- the Warriors looked more like the 2007 Maroons in the finals, especially in the second salvo. As much as UE supporters and basketball pundits can say that UE shot itself in this brief series, do credit Franz Pumaren and Gang-Green, in the same breath, for having been able to capitalize on the opposition playing scattered. Needless to say, the blokes from Taft grabbed the crimson fighters by the neck, and, ala “300″, sent them careening down the slopes of basketball infamy (infamy in terms of having blown their best shot in years at winning it all).

For now, La Salleans everywhere have reason to rejoice. The UE faithful, meanwhile, has a year to sit down, reflect, and wonder what went wrong. After the smoke clears, a couple of other gladiators, in the form of Eagles, Falcons, Growling Tigers, et al, will be gnashing a the teeth to get a their respective opportunities at tasting ultimate victory.

So goes another year in your UAAP.

~0~

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Responses

  1. may i ask if there will be a collegiate champions’ league this year?

  2. Hi CJ! Yep, there will be a collegiate champions league this year. Look for it to begin in a month or so (I think). Thanks for visiting the site!

  3. Great site dude! Seems to be a future site for hoop-related blogs hehehe:-) From now on, i’ll visit this site daily for collegiate champions league updates. ubelt.com seems silent about ccl so far. Thanks Bro!

  4. That’s a great and well-balanced article above Bro. I belong to both AdMU and DLSU. Alumnus in the former and college faculty to both (currently).

    Maybe luck (or blessing for the more devoted Christian or what not) played a big role in the Archers’ victory this season Bro. What do you think?

  5. This is really an excellent site. Sori for me coz this is only my first time to visit here. Anybody can actually pick his favorite sport here. Kudos to the hardworking men and women behind this site!

  6. Thanks for visiting the site, John Henry!

    I think that in basketball, there’s always a degree of luck involved in determining the outcomes of ballgames. In the case of the UE/La Salle series, La Salle was “fortunate” to have caught the Warriors when they were at their weakest, not neccessarily due to matchup issues, but more because of the pressure involved in being in the UAAP finals. Man for man, the Warriors could have probably won, from positions 1 through 5. It’s the stress that got to UE. They outrebounded La Salle 60-31 in game 1, but on the flipside of that, they committed an uncharacteristically high 32 turnovers. See my point? UE’s execution patterns broke down due to their inability to cope with all the stress involved with taking center stage.

    It was a clean series, and quite exciting because of all the hype that led up to it due to the “extended” tiffs between La Salle, Ateneo, and UST. I look for Season 71 to be even more thrilling, with the Archers defending their crown, and Ateneo/UE/UST all raring, specifically, to climb back up to respectability, beyond just being “decent”.


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