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Green and White vs. Green and Gold
On Saturday, September 27, UAAP fans everywhere will be treated to something we haven’t seen in a while. The women’s and men’s basketball squads from the De La Salle University and the Far Eastern University go head-to-head in back-to-back matchups on Saturday afternoon, in one of the single most crucial game days in the basketball tournament thus far.
Last year’s champions the Lady Archers took the first round meeting in the elimination round, but bowed down to the Lady Tams in their last two matches. The Lady Archers and the Lady Tamaraws will be facing each other for the fourth and final time this season, with the winner booking a trip to finals against the 14-0 NU Lady Bulldogs, the ladies of Morayta having won the first game of the final four series against the twice-to-beat Lady Archers. FEU, the champions of seasons 74 and 75, were not given an opportunity to defend their title last year due to a majority of their games being forfeited because one of their players saw action in a commercial league while the UAAP was in session. The eventual champions for Season 76? The DLSU Lady Archers.
Meanwhile, things are just heating up for the boys of the hardcourt. The defending champions from Taft have bowed down to three straight match-ups with the Tamaraws this season, including last week’s play-off for the second seed. While the Tamaraws lead the season’s series at 3-0, all three matchups have been pretty close games. Not to mention it was La Salle who eliminated FEU from the play-offs the last 2 years. Coach Juno Sauler’s boys need to finally get one against Coach Nash Racela’s Tams if they want to hold on to that crown.
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The Story So Far:
Green Archers vs. Tamaraws
FEU 3, DLSU 0
First meeting: 82-77 (FEU, July 12, 2014 – Smart Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City)
Second meeting: 74-70 (FEU, August 8, 2014 – SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City)
Third meeting: 65-62 (FEU, September 21, 2014 – SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City)
Lady Archers vs. Lady Tamaraws
FEU 2, DLSU 1
First meeting: 46-43 (DLSU, August 6, 2014 – Blue Eagle Gym, Quezon City)
Second meeting: 48-43 (FEU, September 7, 2014 – Blue Eagle Gym, Quezon City)
Third meeting: 61-56 (FEU, September 25, 2014 – Flying V Arena, San Juan City)
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FEU: MIKE TOLOMIA
Everyone knows how the tandem of Mike Tolomia and Mark Belo has been the most dangerous 1-2 punch the league has seen this season. However, it’s Tolomia who has been giving La Salle nightmares. He’s dropped 22, 23, and 19 in three outings with the Archers. The men in green and white have come up empty-handed as far as stopping this guy goes.
DLSU: JERON TENG
And then there’s Jeron Teng. He proved his worth as King Archer this season, keeping his team afloat in a season of wild, wild rides and returning to the Mythical Five. But he’s been under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons since the Archers’ loss to FEU in the play-off for the No.2 spot, where he was held to eight points and eight rebounds, faltering when his team needed him most. Was it the dengue? Was it The Naked Truth? We don’t know. But what we do know is that he’ll have to bounce back big time if he wants to make sure the Archers hold on to the crown.
FEU: JACQUELINE TANAMAN
Veteran Jacqueline Tanaman was the X-factor in the win over the Lady Archers on Thursday. The point guard finished the game with an impressive near triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists, contributing in the fourth quarter rally that stole the game for FEU. While her elimination round numbers weren’t exactly stellar, it’s in always in the Final Four where the kuyas and ates of the team are expected to step-up. Another explosion in the knockout match could spell trouble for La Salle.
DLSU: TRISHA PIATOS
Season 76 Finals MVP Trisha Piatos was La Salle’s leading scorer in the elimination round this year. However, she struggled in the game against FEU, managing to put up a lone three-pointer. And though that one lackluster outing may haunt her for a while, she still remains the most threatening scorer on the La Salle roster. Like her men’s counterpart Jeron Teng, she’s expected to bounce back hard this coming Saturday. If these two trigger-happy Archers decide that they’ve just about had enough, the weekend might be a little cheerier for the La Sallians.
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Time for a short history lesson. Why is the La Salle-FEU men’s basketball matchup always one of the most hyped-up matchups every season?
Along with UST and Ateneo, La Salle and FEU are two of the four teams that have bagged the UAAP crown since the final four format was instituted in the ‘93-’94 season. The Archers have won six times while the Tamaraws have won four times, their last title being the 2005 crown. In another universe, that would have been seven and three for the two squads. We’ll get to that in a little while.
La Salle and FEU have also had the most semi-final appearances in the final four era, the Archers with eighteen and the Tamaraws with sixteen. They’re first and third respectively in finals appearances, with La Salle making it to the final stage nine times and FEU making it seven times. Translation: these are two of most successful college basketball programs of the past two decades. That means they’ve run into each other in the big stages a couple of times, right?
Right. They’ve met in the semi-finals five times (six including this year), and have met another three times (four including this year) in a one-game play-off before the semi-final proper. Five times have these two schools met in the finals-in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2005. FEU took the ‘97, ‘04, and ‘05 crowns while ‘98 and ‘2000 went to La Salle. Ritualo, Allado, Cardona, Cortez, Casio, Yeo, TY, Arwind, Miranda, Jonas, Isip, Jeff Chan–familiar names that saw action in that nine-season stretch.
The 2004 finals is a tricky one, though. It was the Archers who had actually won the finals series that year, edging the Tamaraws in an exciting three-game series. But a year later, it was revealed that the Archers had fielded academically ineligible players that season, and the 2004 title has since then been ruled as rightfully FEU’s. The two green squads haven’t met in the final stage since ‘05, and that may have something to do with mutual headache Ateneo dominating the scene the past few years. The three straight play-off matches they’ve had since the 2012 season and back-to-back semi-final encounters from last year and this year will have to suffice for those of us who love to see these two classic powerhouses duke it out.
So yes, this Saturday is a good day to see green. Will the boys and girls of Taft hold on to their trophies or will the cagers of Morayta ruin the weekend for the defending champs? Saturday couldn’t come sooner.