Wednesday, 24 October 2007 6,431 Views / 303 Comments
Is there such a thing as an Ateneo vs. San Beda rivarly?
Let’s be clear. When we are talking about the NCAA Senior Men’s Basketball, the answer will definitely be – YES. When both schools – Ateneo de Manila and San Beda College – were still together since 1924, they were the winningest teams in Philippine College Basketball. Both schools have winning traditions and a rich and colorful basketball history. Ateneo had 14 NCAA titles. San Beda College had 11 (13 if you count their current back to back titles). San Beda College was the first over Ateneo to win its College Basketball title in 1927, Ateneo followed suit in 1928 and the race was on.
Ateneo had the most back to back titles with 3 (1953 and 1954, 1957 and 1958, 1975 and 1976)) and 1 three peat (1931, 1932, 1933), while San Beda had three back to back titles (1934 and 1935, 1951 and 1952, 1977 and 1978) 4 if you count 2006 and 2007 – and 1 three-peat (1934,1935,1936). Seasons 1955 and 1959 were the years that prevented Ateneo the glory – the rare Three-Peat. But check the dates and you’ll find out that both of them are always on a collision course to dispute who will be the greatest college basketball team ever. But in 1955, San Beda took the Crispulo Zamora trophy – a special trophy by the NCAA for the most number of championships in that stretch.
After winning the 1959 NCAA Championship series, San Beda will wait 17 years for another back to back title. Then another that would last 28 years. That quest was narrated in a book by friend and colleague, Jude Roque, entitled – a Time to Roar. Anyway, that 1959 San Beda team was bannered by former MICAA bruiser Big Boy Reynoso, Tata Caranceja, Jose Oyson, Ramon Asiva, and Rodolfo de los Santos.
That wait will again push the league into another classic title showdown in the 53rd season of the NCAA.
The year was 1977. The Adamson Falcons bagged the UAAP Senior Men’s Basketball over the NU Bulldogs. Joel Banal was the NCAA’s scoring leader. And, the Ateneo Blue Eagles is once again poised for another shot at greatness after winning back to back titles, at the same time, they are in search for another three-peat against a familiar sentry post – the San Beda Red Lions.
San Beda swept the 1st round of the series, 7-0, to gain the 1st final seat. The 1st time these two teams met, San Beda defeated Ateneo, 93-88. Ateneo had an excuse to lose because their three starters – Joy Carpio, Fritz Gaston and Steve Watson – were in Singapore playing for the RP Youth team. Chuck Barreiro was the only Red Lion to join that RP youth selection.
In the 2nd round, Ateneo, in their last game of the series, conquered San Beda, 92-89, to take the last seat of the finals. Chito Loyzaga missed his free throws and a jumper and Francisco “Frankie” Lim was thrown out of the ball game. The Finals was set for another explosion between two teams that have different styles. The San Beda Red Lions is a deliberate half-court, high percentage shooting team against the run and gun Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Aside from Barreiro, the Red Lions have Chito Loyzaga, JB Yango, the Guzman twins and Cholo Martin with Loreto Carbonel taking care of the sidelines. The Blue Eagles, however, aside from their RP Youth stalwarts, have Louie Rabat, the Narvasa brothers and Padim Israel with the youthful Bong Go manning the coaching chores for Ateneo.
September 21, Game 1 at the Araneta Coliseum. Experts predicted that Ateneo will go all the way to win the series because of their key players’ international experience. A thunderdome at the Big Dome was almost the description of that fateful day. Steel bolts, nuts, golf balls, eggs, dry batteries, chairs and, would you believe, even long playing albums were being thrown.
The game was almost cancelled if the boisterous spectators failed to heed Fr. Jose Cruz’s and Fr. Belarmine Baltazar’s call for both sides to calm down. But the Blue Eagles’ fate will so far agree with the experts as they took game 1 of the finals, 105-99. Steve Watson was the best player for the Blue Eagles supported by Joy Carpio and Padim Israel. “I guess you could consider that as my best game”, Watson said after the game. JB Yango, Chuck Barreiro, Noel and Joel Guzman were the top players for the Red Lions.
September 23, Game 2 at the Araneta Coliseum. Red Lions Head Coach Loreto Carbonel suggested to the NCAA officials that the following games be held in closed doors. Referees have again threatened to walk-out if such violence will occur during the games. The NCAA has been suspended in 1962 because of a similar incident. The 1963 and 1964 seasons were held in a home and away type format.
The Blue Eagles were not able to establish their running game and the Red Lions slowed things a bit. San Beda, with Chito Loyzaga, Chuck Barreiro, JB Yango and Al Alipante with his defense over Steve Watson, got game 2, 71-68 to tie the series at 1-1 but without casualties. One woman was hit near the eye and another a cut in the head as hooliganism once again struck at the Big Dome this time it included automobile spark plugs. Blue Eagle Manuel Estrella and Red Lion Noel Guzman were both hurt during the mayhem.
September 25. Ateneo de Manila thru Fr. Jose Cruz has announced that they will quit the NCAA due to rowdiness and violence. Fr. Cruz said that their withdrawal from the league was for the protection of their students and the general public. But the series will still continue.
Twice the Blue Eagles were denied by the Red Lions of a three-peat and this series will be the last of an illustrious college basketball rivalry the country has ever known.
Game 3 at the Araneta Coliseum, September 25. The same day when Ateneo made its announcement to withdraw from the league would like to come out, hopefully, with a bang. The game will be held in closed doors and will be watched only by school officials and the press.
With a refined defensive system and a man-zone that caught the Blue Eagles off guard, the San Beda Red Lions captured the 53rd NCAA Senior Men’s Basketball title, 77-75, denying the Blue Eagles another three-peat.
Ateneo Blue Eagles Back to Back Coach Baby Dalupan (the PBA’s winningest coach) blamed referee Manuel Inocentes for calling a charging foul on Blue Eagle Manolito Valdez. Coach Dalupan believes that call influenced the outcome of the series. The foul gave the Red Lions two free throw opportunities to ice the series for good.
Eugenio Puyat literally carried the Blue Eagles with 16 points followed by Watson and Carpio. Chito Loyzaga also had 16-points with Manzano, Yango and Martin contributing in double digits for the Red Lions. Ateneo’s Joy Carpio was named the Most Valuable Player.
San Beda would go on to win back to back in 1978 over the La Salle Green Archers. Ateneo will enter the UAAP. San Beda will win another title after 28 long years, almost twice the wait since the last time in 1959. The rivalry’s frolic and color is still being enjoyed on occasion in organized exhibition games by both schools. San Beda is destined to be a dynasty at this early part of the 21st century. And Ateneo continues to struggle at the UAAP. If San Beda succeeds in its application for a university status, will it join its former NCAA founding members? Who knows what will happen.
Note: We would like our readers to check out our photo gallery for more Retro NCAA.