By Herman M. Lagon
THE MUCH-anticipated Game 3 of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Finals set this Wednesday is a unique blend of excitement and conflict that brews within me and many others who see themselves as Iskolar ng Bayan, LaSallista, or, like me, something in between. As an alumnus of the UP system and a current student at La Salle, my loyalties are split in a tangle of emotions and memories reminiscent of last year’s Ateneo vs UP clash. Having been formed by the Ignatian spirituality for over two decades and now embraced by La Sallian values, this upcoming game between De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers and Ateneo finals streak-slayer University of the Philippines (UP) Maroons is not just a game; it is a battle of school pride and passion.
The game, scheduled at 6 p.m. at the Big Dome, is not just a battle for the championship but a narrative of resilience, strategy, and sheer willpower. The Green Archers, after a compelling 82-60 victory in Game 2, are a testament to resilience. With players like Evan Nelle and Francis Escandor showing remarkable skills, DLSU has bounced back from their initial defeat, embodying the La Sallian ethos of faith and zeal, including facing challenges on the court. The inputs of MVP Kevin Quiambao (the first local player in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament to win an MVP award since Ilonggo Blue Eagle Kiefer Ravena in 2014 and 2015) plus the vital muscle from Ilonggo Mark Nonoy, Harold Alarcon, CJ Austria, and Joshua David, will also be a big decider in this do-or-die matchup.
On the flip side, the Katipunan-based Maroons, steered by key players such as CJ Cansino and Malick Diouf, are on a journey of redemption. Their unexpected setback in Game 2, following a commanding victory in the opening game, underscores the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of competitive sports. It illustrates the essential need for agility, continuous improvement, and resilience—qualities that echo UP’s unwavering dedication to honor and academic excellence. Adding to this pursuit of a championship title are talents like the ex-Ateneo standout Francis Lopez, alongside Harold Alarcon, Janjan Felicilda, and Gerry Abadiano, who collectively bolster the team’s formidable lineup and championship aspirations.
As a viewer torn between allegiances, I see strengths and weaknesses on both sides. DLSU’s defense and rebounding capabilities, coupled with their newfound momentum, position them as formidable contenders. UP, however, must reignite the offensive prowess they displayed in Game 1 and control the game’s pace to claim victory. Both teams’ ability to adapt, strategize, and execute under pressure is the key.
This game is more than just a physical contest; it is a mental and emotional chess match. It is about the players’ and coaches’ ability to outthink and outmaneuver each other, a dynamic that makes this sport so enthralling. For enthusiasts eager to witness this clash, the game’s digital accessibility ensures no one misses out. From live streaming on Facebook to pay-per-view cable services and mobile platforms, the game is just a click away, bringing the thrill of the court to fans everywhere.
In this showdown, the season journey of the green-and-white and maroon-and-green players mirrors the unpredictability and passion of the game itself. Reflecting on the values both institutions instill: resilience, excellence, and a commitment to something greater than oneself, I say that this game is more than a contest; it is a celebration of these values, a reminder of the impact educational institutions have on their students and the broader community.
So, as DLSU and UP prepare for this epic encounter, I invite every basketball enthusiast, student, and alum of these great institutions to witness a game that promises athletic excellence and a display of the enduring spirit and values that define us. Let us embrace the spirit of friendly competition and revel in the joy and excitement that only a game like this can bring. This is not just a game; it is a manifestation of our shared journeys, struggles, and triumphs. Animo La Salle! UP Fight!
Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.