Last Saturday, the UAAP Men's Basketball Tournament saw a new champion after five years of dominance by the Ateneo Blue Eagles. And how fitting that the title was disputed by the two universities that last held the championship before Ateneo's reign; 2006 champion and last year's runner-up University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers and the Eagle's perpetual rivals, the 2007 champions De La Salle University Green Archers. The proud schools stood toe-to-toe against each other, and they treated basketball fans to a hard-fought Finals to remember.
Their road to the title was no cake walk by any means, which is why this is truly a magical season for the Green Archers. Here's a look back at their amazing season:
DLSU Moment #1: The Coach Swap
After losing a preseason game to their arch-rivals Ateneo in disappointing fashion, DLSU officials announced a coaching change, surprising almost everyone. Coach Gee Abanilla was called up to
take over the head coaching duties of the Petron Blaze Boosters, leaving long-time assistant coach Juno Sauler with the daunting task of preparing the boys with just a few weeks to go before the start of the UAAP.
DLSU Moment #2: 13 Strong
While teams are allowed to have as much as 16 players on their roster, DLSU began the season with only 13 players after energetic big man Yutien Andrada was sidelined for the season (along with several other key departures). However, the 13-strong DLSU contingent was a solid team that looked good enough to challenge for the Final Four. But given the short amount of time given to Coach Juno to handle this team, expectations weren't too high for DLSU.
DLSU Moment #3: The Disappointing First Round
Nobody expected them to be great, but they weren't supposed to be this bad. The Archers just couldn't find a way to close out games in the first round, resulting in late-game meltdowns and lots of close games that did not end in their favor. They finished the first round with a 3-4 record, but at least they managed to pull off a win against Ateneo.