From The LaSallian’s Championship special, October 1999
October 9, 1999 was the fateful day that the last UAAP basketball match of the 20th century was played, pitting the DLSU Green Archers and the UST Growling Tigers against each other in the penultimate match of the finals.
It was La Salle gunning for a back-to-back championship against their tormentors from the early years of the decade.
It was UST then hoping to extend their list of sweet finals victories over DLSU and reclaim their championship crown after their streak of four straight titles was snapped in 1996.
With UST taking Game One and the Green Archers making a huge statement during Game Two, the series was tied at 1-1 with one final match to determine the victor. It was another head-on clash for the perennial hard court rivals.
The Cuneta Astrodome was filled to the rafters and the crowd was in a frenzy. It was history in the making.
The duel went down the wire as both teams entered the final seconds of the game. La Salle was down by three points with just 13 seconds left in regulation. Consecutive shots by star Green Archers Ren Ren Ritualo and Don Allado missed and it seemed like La Salle was on the brink of another bitter loss against UST.
This time though, guard Dino Aldeguer refused to give up. He jacked up a three pointer with almost no time left and then and there, almost every Lasallian prayed and held their breath in anticipation. The ball went straight in through the net to tie the game at 68-apiece, and Aldeguer even drew a foul for a four-point play opportunity.
Aldeguer’s bonus freethrow could have won the game, but he missed the bonus charity and the game went into overtime. The extra period saw both squads pulling the game back and forth, but it was La Salle that prevailed in the end, 78-75, to clinch one of its best victories of all time.
The match was undeniably one of the greatest championship duels to hit Philippine college basketball. La Salle was,led by three of their all-time best players who were members of the Mythical Five that season, Don Allado, Dino Aldeguer and Ren Ren Ritualo. The trio, together with legendary head coach Franz Pumaren, led DLSU to another glorious win and their second of four straight titles. It was history into he making, and their heart immortalized their team.
Now, a new breed of Green Archers is facing the UST Growling Tigers in the finals for the first time since this historic 1999 finale. With the same scenario in place and the winner-take-all game coming up, the question on everyone’s mind is, will history repeat itself?