Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Seventy-Year War: Ateneo vs. La Salle

The rivalry between Ateneo and La Salle has raged since 1939 when an upstart La Salle team upset the league-leading Ateneans to cop their first basketball crown. But as fiercely fought were the games between the two teams, the real rival of Ateneo back then was San Beda. They played in 10 championship matches (the head-to-head score is 5-5) and the two always seemed to stand in each other's way of achievement. But when Ateneo and La Salle left the NCAA within years of each other, the rivalry shifted. Even before the Green Archers were accepted into the UAAP, the two teams battled through the MMBL and in dual meets. With the Red Lions in the rear view mirror, the rivalry between Ateneo and La Salle in took center stage.

I'll be putting up over the next few days old yarns and new ones on this rivalry.

The Seventy-Year War
by rick olivares

Perhaps the only other sporting event that stops the entire country is a fight by Manny Pacquiao. But an Ateneo-La Salle match is altogether on a different level. It hits the national psyche more. The game accounts go beyond the sports pages and into the headline news and opinion columns. Its momentous victories and crushing defeats are the stuff of legends. Its combatants are icons and immortals. And next to one’s food consumption and office stress, the games are responsible for more cases of high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and nervous breakdowns. Families and bloodlines are drawn between the two. Inter-marriages between alumni from either school remind one of the Capulets and the Montagues.

Unlike a Pacquiao fight, a game between two of the most storied collegiate powers attracts the female audience who outside boxing as a workout couldn’t really care less about the sweet science. And the nation’s best athletes regardless of sport – it’s either one or the other. Of course there are exceptions but when they’re all grown and up and have kids what schools do they send them to?

And we have all heard about the school’s alumni being the scions of the best and brightest, the richest and most influential. And going to either of the two schools is an aspiration and a corresponding diploma is like a green card to a better future.

The nation’s movers and shakers are all glued to the tube or are at the Araneta Coliseum. And for a change, it’s the celebrities who are in the audience.

When the two schools were in the NCAA, the league was then considered as the more glamorous one. And now the shoe is on the UAAP’s foot. The teams and the games they play are a Philippine version of the Super Bowl – they’re an advertiser’s dream. There’s no short fall for its television carrier. And it used to be another microcosm of the sneaker wars as Nike and adidas both outfitted one or the other but both are now under the three stripes. Impossible is nothing as it is said.

As for the rivalry?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last century then I don’t need to describe it any further.

The Tale of the Tape:
1939 La Salle defeated Ateneo 27-23
1958 Ateneo defeated La Salle 105-103
1988 Ateneo defeated La Salle 76-70
2001 La Salle defeated Ateneo 93-88
2002 Ateneo defeated La Salle 77-70

Twenty years ago, another Reyes led Ateneo to the title where they faced off against two Pumarens -- one as a player and the other as the coach of the Green Archers. And both Reyeses play the same point guard spot.

My friends from inboundpass, Kim Lesaca and Sid Ventura were teasing me that the last time a 13-1 team in the UAAP made it to the championship, they lost in the finals. My comebacker was, "the last time a 13-1 Ateneo team went to the finals, they won the whole shebang."

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