Garvo Lanete, Ronald Pascual, Rome de la Rosa, Ian Sanggalang, Dave Marcelo, and Calvin Abueva are names mostly unfamiliar to people outside of NCAA schools. Well, they just happen to be some of the best collegiate players in the country. Unfortunately, they do not get the attention that they deserve. The NCAA plays on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. The weekends, where most people get in their weekly TV time, are all reserved for the UAAP. The Monday games are not even televised.
But even if the NCAA gets less attention compared to the UAAP, it does not mean that the league is not as good. One of the best selling points for the NCAA is that they have the best rivalry in college basketball today.
San Beda and San Sebastian were both undefeated in the first round of the NCAA 87th season. This fact alone should have already been a storyline; two undefeated teams competing for a sweep of the first round. But for San Beda and San Sebastian, it was much deeper than that.
San Beda was coming off a historical sweep in the NCAA’s 86th season. They were undefeated in the eliminations and they swept the NCAA Finals against the San Sebastian Stags. In total, the Lions were on a 26 game winning streak in the NCAA when they met with the Stags.
Sweet, sweet revenge
San Sebastian Stags on the other hand were seeking redemption. They had four chances to deal the Lions their first defeat last year but they failed each time.
The fates of these two teams have been intertwined for the past few years. Rewind to three seasons ago, in Season 84: San Sebastian was one of four teams that ended up with 9-5 records. Yes, there were four teams tied at an identical records. They lost to the Mapua Cardinals in the battle for a Final 4 slot then watched the Lions win their third straight NCAA title.
Season 85 saw the emergence of the Stags. They sported a new head coach in Ato Agustin and a trio of rookies from Pampanga that rocked San Sebastian to its very core. The Stags ended up tied for the first slot with San Beda and after finishing if their Final Four opponents, the met in the Finals with the Stags winning the exciting series 2-0.
In the 87th season of the NCAA, we find ourselves amidst a budding rivalry. This new rivalry does not have as much history behind it as, say, the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry but what it lacks in history, it more than makes up for in passion.
NEXT: The heat is on