PHOTOS BY: RYAN ONG
With a little over two minutes left in a game—a game that has long been decided, by the way— the familiar chant of “One Big Fight!” was bouncing off the walls of the Smart Araneta Coliseum. It was a euphoric cry of jubilation emanating from thousands of blue-clad fans, each voicing their excitement over the inevitable. For Ateneo Blue Eagles fans, winning the UAAP title on October 1, 2011 felt like Christmas.
But unlike previous years that netted familiar results and similar voices of fanaticism, this championship strikes a different chord in the hearts of the entire Ateneo community. This year, Ateneo entered an esteemed club reserved only for the best-of-the-best: the “Four-Peat” club.
In the course of the UAAP’s 74-year history, only three schools have managed to win four senior men’s basketball titles in succession. The UE Red Warriors rung up seven consecutive titles from 1965 to 1971. That was followed by the UST Growling Tiger’s four-year run of dominance 1993 to 1996, and most recently, the De La Salle Green Archers raked in their own four-peat from 1998 to 2001.
Now, they’ll have to make room for their colleagues in Katipunan.
As far as Ateneo’s fourth title in as many years is concerned, it was really more of a formality as it was a grueling trek to the top of the mountain. Give some credit to the FEU Tamaraws for putting up a fight, but the truth reared its ugly head for the entire world to see.
For all of their guile and determination, the Tams were just completely overmatched. They would go on their spurts and try to make things a little bit interesting, but for every one of their jabs and body shots, the Blue Eagles countered with left hooks, haymakers, and the occasional throwing of the kitchen sink.
Cheered on by an enthusiastic and passionate Ateneo community comprising of alumni, current students, teachers, friends of students, parents of students, brothers, mothers, sisters, cousins, and just about everybody else in between, the Ateneo Blue Eagles disposed the FEU Tamaraws in convincing fashion. They ran way in two games that looked eerily similar from one another: a close game by halftime that Ateneo broke open in the third quarter, inevitably opening the floodgates to FEU’s demise.
It certainly didn’t help the Tamaraws’ cause when their head coach apparently forgot what the phrase ‘half-time adjustments’ meant, but that’s neither here nor there at this point. This is not about a team that crawled up into a fetal position in the second half of both games. This is about a team that showed their championship mettle with a steady diet of team basketball, defensive excellence, and poise under pressure. History, they say, has a habit of reinventing itself very few – if any - can predict.
NEXT: A true dynasty