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The Ninja and the Lieutenant: comparing Manila Clasico to La Salle-Ateneo rivalry



If you were to mention a list of great collegiate rivalries in the Philippines, Ateneo versus La Salle will always be at the top. Incidentally, players from both proud universities are a part of another rivalry in the professional ranks- Barangay Ginebra San Miguel versus Purefoods.

Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter, Emman Monfort were former Eagles who now represent Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, while Jerwin Gaco and Don Allado of Purefoods, who were active participants during their UAAP stint as Archers, saw less action in the recent Manila Clasico matchup.

The once adversaries have become allies as Ginebra’s LA Tenorio and Joseph Yeo shared their thoughts on being part of two storied rivalries in Philippine basketball.

“Yung intensity iba, saka yung energy ng game iba. I feel like I’m back in college,” Yeo shared, describing the energy and the passion of the fans of both teams.

As for LA, he agrees that the intensity of the rivalry among the teams is completely different compared to other matchups. However, he treats it just like any other game. “Aside from that (high intensity) it’s a normal game na kailangan naming maglaro and papanalunin yung team,” added Tenorio, as Ginbera improved their record to 3-3 with the victory.

Both players agree that rivalry games like Manila Clasico give added motivation for players to go harder during the game. Seeing fans (more than 16, 000 fans – the most this conference) fill up the stands while cheering loudly for the team they are rooting for fuels the game even more, said Yeo and Tenorio.

“For me, very similar kasi sa kabilang side may nag-chicheer din,” said Yeo, describing how La Salle-Ateneo matches are similar to their matchup against Purefoods. For Tenorio, the crowd, the intensity and the game atmosphere are a few things very similar to his rivalry games back in college.

While there are many similarities between collegiate basketball and the PBA, the two Ginebra cagers mentioned a few differences too. “Pag college, you’re playing for pride and school spirit. More on intensity dito sa PBA. More on experience din. Ibang level of game na,” said Tenorio. Yeo mentioned school pride as well as one of the differences.

For the Ninja, the rivalry game in the PBA is more of a fun game since there are a lot of instances when players switch teams. Hence, it is difficult to consider playing for team pride, he said.

“It’s a good experience to be part of that rivalry. Sobrang sarap maglaro talaga,” exclaimed Tenorio, grateful for having been a part of two proud rivalries in the country.

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