There have been many great champions in the 80-year history of the UAAP, but only a select few can call themselves a dynasty. Five teams led by iconic mentors and varsity heroes earned such distinction after producing title runs that captured the imagination of basketball fans.
The Red Warriors’ seven-peat bridging the late-'60s and early-'70s was among the numerous great achievements of coach Baby Dalupan, who compiled 52 championships in different fronts during his legendary career.
He coached some of the best players in basketball history, none bigger than Robert Jaworski, who was part of the first three championships—all at the expense of the archrival University of Santo Tomas Glowing Goldies. The Red Warriors overcame a Game 1 loss to win the 1965 finals before beating their Espana counterparts in 1966 and 1967, the latter year coming two weeks after Jaworski helped the Philippines capture the ABC Championship in Seoul.
UE’s record feat, however, wasn’t perfect, evident in the 1968 title series with UST when both teams refused to enter the floor for the start of the second half of the deciding third game and the Glowing Goldies ahead 51-40. The UAAP eventually awarded both schools as co-champions.
After beating the Glowing Goldies in 1969, the Red Warriors defeated the National University Bulldogs and the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in 1970 and 1971, respectively, behind the likes of Johnny Revilla, Rudolf Kutch, Rudy Soriano, and Rey Franco. Dalupan later relinquished his coaching position, concentrating more on his role as the school’s PE Department head, and head coach of the fabled Crispa Redmanizers.
Turo Valenzona coached one of the best FEU teams of all-time with a talented core powered by American center Anthony Williams, who took up medicine at FEU while becoming one of the first foreign players to star in the collegiate ranks.
Williams, a tall, athletic big man, had plenty of help in national youth standout Bai Cristobal, Glenn Capacio, Joel Valle, Chris McGary, and Gimo Valerio as the Tamaraws completed a rare trifecta that ended with back-to-back perfect seasons.
The reign started in 1979 when Williams erupted for 35 points to lead FEU to a 100-89 win over University of Santo Tomas in the finals. The Tamaraws took advantage of the absence of Ed Cordero, the Glowing Goldies star who earlier that year scored 54 points against Adamson but failed to suit up in the title game.
Williams and company continued their dominance in the next two seasons, with consecutive 12-0 records to clinch the championship outright, with Williams capturing MVP honors in 1981. The Tams failed to win a fourth straight in 1982, but came back in the winner's circle the following year with Capacio emerging as MVP in the Tams' finals triumph over the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.
The Growling Tigers not only was the last team to win the championship unbeaten, it also had to endure three consecutive title duels against the La Salle Green Archers to complete one of the most memorable championship runs in UAAP history.
Dennis Espino made his final season in Espana a productive one, steering UST to a 14-game sweep of the 1993 season and the school's first title since sharing the 1968 crown with UE. Other members of that squad were Rey Evangelista, Patrick Fran, Udoy Belmonte, and Edmund Reyes.
Coach Aric del Rosario shed more tears in the next two seasons, with UST giving La Salle back-to-back heartbreaks by winning the 1994 and 1995 titles after losing Game 1 with 1995 MVP Chris Cantonjos, Estong Ballesteros, and Dale Singson among the notable stars.
UST would make it three in a row over La Salle in 1996, ending its run with a finals sweep and cementing its status as the greatest period in the school's rich basketball history.
The Green Archers recovered from those heartbreaking defeats to the Growling Tigers and a 1997 title defeat to the Tamaraws by entering the UAAP's new era with four consecutive championships under the tutelage of coach Franz Pumaren.
Hired in 1998, Pumaren quickly brought La Salle back to the top by defeating FEU in the finals, thanks in large part to Don Allado, Dino Aldeguer, and sophomore guard Renren Ritualo, whose shooting exploits sealed the crown in Game 2.
Allado and Aldeguer got a perfect swan song the following year, exacting revenge on UST with a finals victory highlighted by the latter's three that forced overtime of the deciding Game 3. Ritualo soon became King Archer, and led a group that included Mac Cardona, Mike Cortez, Joseph Yeo, and Mon Jose to beat FEU in 2000 and Ateneo in 2001. Ritualo ended his collegiate career with all four titles in that run and his No. 4 jersey hanging in the rafters of the school gymnasium.
La Salle had a strong chance to complete a five-peat in 2002, with Cortez emerging as the team's new star after Ritualo's graduation. The Green Archers flirted with a 14-0 sweep, but ran into a determined Blue Eagles, who denied their archrivals an elims sweep in Game No. 14 before dethroning them in an emotional finals series.
2003-2005 FEU TAMARAWS
FEU retroactively completed a three-peat in the mid-2000s when La Salle was forced to relinquish the 2004 crown for fielding two ineligible players. However, such technicality should not diminish the greatness of those Tamaraw teams led by Arwind Santos.
Santos' all-around performances helped the Tamaraws dominate this period, first teaming up with Gerald Jones, Mark Isip, and Denok Miranda and coach Koy Banal to foil the Blue Eagles' back-to-back title bid in 2003.
The Tamaraws came close to winning the 2004 tussle on the court when they took the lead in the last minute, only to see Green Archers guard Jvee Casio hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to seal the win that was eventually erased from the record books.
That defeat served as a motivation for Santos, who was being courted to turn pro at the time, to come back for one final year. He was named MVP for the second straight season, leading FEU to a thrilling sweep of La Salle in the finals with help from Jeff Chan, Jonas Villanueva, Isip, and coach Bert Flores.
Norman Black cemented his status as one of the greatest coaches in Philippine basketrball history when he guided the Blue Eagles to a five-peat that almost put the Red Warriors' record feat in the '60s and '70s in jeopardy.
Black silenced the doubters in 2008 when the Ateneo team led by MVP Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Chris Tiu, and Nonoy Baclao beat La Salle in the finals, before Al-Hussaini, Baclao, Jai Reyes, and Eric Salamat made it two in a row the following year with a win over the Paul Lee-led Red Warriors.
Ateneo was threatened in 2010 when departures of Al-Hussaini, Baclao, and Reyes forced Black to field what looked on paper as the weakest title-winning squad of this bunch, coupled with a strong FEU squad led by RR Garcia, Reil Cervantes, Terrence Romeo and Aldrech Ramos. But the Blue Eagles survived the challenge as Finals MVP Ryan Buenafe, Kirk Long, Salamat, Justin Chua, and Nico Salva led the way in sweeping the Tamaraws.
The Blue Eagles' run ended in dominating fashion as the arrivals of Greg Slaughter and Kiefer Ravena and the emergence of Juami Tiongson paved the way for beating the Tams in 2011 and the Tigers in 2012. Black's success in Loyola also led to a return to pro-coaching stint, while a third title eluded Ravena from 2013 unti his graduation in 2015.
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