One Big Fight

One game. For the Ateneo Blue Eagles, all the wins that they have posted in the UAAP Men’s Basketball tournament would amount to nothing if they did not emerge as the victor. For the UST Growling Tigers, it was the last chapter to write in an epic Cinderella story.

Two coaches. For Norman Black, winning this title would be nothing like the nine championships won with San Miguel Beer in the PBA and the lone jewel as coach of Sta. Lucia Realty – a first championship in the collegiate ranks. For Pido Jarencio, nothing could be sweeter than winning the championship for his alma mater, a team he once led to the championship, only to fall short of the goal.

Three games. A true showdown – Ateneo winning the first via a very well-drawn play in the dying seconds, sending the Blue Eagle gallery into roars of triumph and relief. UST bounced back in the second with a balanced attack, sending the Eagles crashing back to earth and force a deciding third game. In the final match, UST emerged victors, bucking the pressure and making the baskets when it mattered the most – at crunch time.

I may have not attained my education from the schools that faced off in this year’s UAAP Finals, but I found myself immensely enjoying the gritty battle for title. I did not find it necessary to watch the much anticipated showdown in the arena that is Araneta Coliseum. Instead, I settled for the backroom TV spots with workmates who cheered for the teams of their alma mater, enjoying the intense trading of baskets and the determination of each side to win. Though in the court and in the game, there can only be one winner, I believe that both institutions won something for themselves – Ateneo for their grace in defeat and their sportsmanship, UST for their hunger and determination in restoring their place as a collegiate basketball force to reckon with.

This is what sets collegiate basketball from professional leagues. The desire to give it all in that one big fight and win.

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