SportsDissecting Rivalries: La Salle versus Ateneo, UST, and FEU
Dissecting Rivalries: La Salle versus Ateneo, UST, and FEU
October 26, 2015
October 26, 2015

In a span of the near three decades since DLSU first joined the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), a number of unforgettable events have etched themselves in the school’s sports history. A handful of victories and defeats have accumulated since then in the country’s premiere collegiate league, all of which shaped the culture and winning tradition of La Salle in the athletics department.

While a multitude of sporting battles against competing schools have also developed over the years, perhaps the highest levels of animosity are reached whenever La Salle is pit against three familiar foes – Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), and Far Eastern University (FEU). These schools are often seen competing head-on with La Salle, not only in basketball, but also in a variety of sporting events, thereby leveling up the competition and boosting the excitement in the entire tournament.

DLSU's archrivals

Green Gang, Blue Battalion

La Salle’s rivalry with ADMU dates back to their good old NCAA days, when college basketball games were not yet televised, when the Ateneo campus was still in Padre Faura, and when the audience of La Salle-Ateneo matches could still fit inside a more compact Rizal Memorial (also known as Ninoy Aquino) Stadium. Arguably the country’s most famous collegiate sporting rivalry, the schedule of matches pitting the two famed institutions are marked in advance, and the games themselves are viewed with utmost scrutiny and support. Players are always expected to bring everything to the table, as generations of athletes have taken the rivalry seriously enough to earn the victories and legacies that La Salle boasts today.

The La Salle-Ateneo rivalry is perhaps most prominent during the UAAP Basketball season. Sold-out arenas and high TV ratings are not unusual with both schools always trying to edge each other out, no matter what win-loss record or streak they carry prior to the match. Clashing at least twice a year, key players from both schools have come and gone, but the spirit of the rivalry has only strengthened through the years.

In the last 15 years, both of these esteemed institutions left their indelible mark in collegiate basketball with the Green Archers kicking off the 2000s in a dominant display of consecutive championships. The Green Archers clinched four consecutive titles from 1998 to 2001 under the tutelage of then-head coach Franz Pumaren to join the exclusive club of teams that won at least four championships in a row. Until then, only two other teams were able to achieve the legendary feat: the University of the East and UST.

However, the Katipunan-based squad finished the latter part of the past 15 years with their own five-peat, starting with a victory over DLSU in 2008. It wasn’t until 2013 when the Green Archers broke through the ranks again, bolstered by the emergence of then-sophomore Jeron Teng and rookie head coach Juno Sauler at the helm, that La Salle regained basketball supremacy by defeating the Growling Tigers in a tense three-game series. In fact, the only time in the last 15 years when neither La Salle nor Ateneo made it to the finals was last season, when National University took down FEU in three games.

Rivals ADMU

Besides basketball, the La Salle-Ateneo rivalry has also been very evident in UAAP Volleyball for the past few years. In the last four years, the Ateneo Lady Eagles and the DLSU Lady Spikers have faced each other in four consecutive UAAP Women’s Volleyball championship series. The Lady Spikers came out triumphant in the first two series, capping off their three-peat at the hands of the Lady Eagles. However, a young Ateneo squad successfully snatched the volleyball crown, upsetting powerhouse La Salle in UAAP Season 76. This was followed by Ateneo’s 16-0 sweep of Season 77, thereby earning them a second straight championship, and forcing the gritty Lady Spikers to settle for second place yet again.

 

Of overall crowns and 90s basketball

Although more hype is placed in the La Salle-Ateneo rivalry, the ‘silent’ rivalry between La Salle and UST has spanned not just basketball and volleyball, but in almost every other sporting event in the UAAP, as both schools are annual contenders for the UAAP General Championship (GC). Since not all member schools participate in all UAAP tournaments, the competition between DLSU and UST in racking up the most number of GC points from each event has become closer, especially during the past 15 years. As La Salle continued improving and supporting all of its sports teams, most DLSU squads were able to have better season finishes, thereby helping to close the gap in the GC tally between DLSU and powerhouse UST.

Rivals UST

For more than a decade, DLSU sat at close second to UST in the GC race, before finally claiming their first ever overall crown in 2013 and another in 2014. La Salle was unable to hold on to the championship much longer, however, as more than a handful of podium finishes and a number of average records in the different sporting events led DLSU to settle for second place in 2015 while the Growling Tigers reclaimed the GC. UST has amassed a total of 40 general championships in the UAAP senior’s division, a record that may never be beaten by any other member school in the near future.

The rivalry between UST and DLSU has been intense even in basketball, especially during the 90s. The Growling Tigers reigned as four-peat champions of the UAAP from 1993 to 1996. Incidentally, in 1994, 1995, and 1996, UST met La Salle in the Finals, denying the Green Archers a championship for three years in a row. DLSU eventually put an end to UST’s mastery over them in 1999, as the Green Archers prevailed over the Growling Tigers in a historic Game 3 overtime victory. Interestingly, it seemed like history would repeat itself in 2013, when La Salle ousted UST in the Finals via a Game 3 overtime victory as well.

 

Against the gritty Tamaraws

It has been a year since Mac Belo swished the game-winning triple at the buzzer that eliminated La Salle from UAAP Season 77 championship contention. While the then-defending champions La Salle were considered as one of the favorites to win the crown for that season, many doubted FEU’s chances in the beginning, since they lost key players RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo. However, the tables had turned as Belo and the Tamaraws broke the hearts of the Lasallian community when they went on to the finals at the expense of DLSU.

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Although this might be the freshest heartbreak that La Salle has experienced at the hands of FEU, the rivalry between DLSU and this Recto-based university has produced several momentous scenes in UAAP Basketball history. FEU and La Salle faced each other in the UAAP Finals in 2004 and 2005, with the Green Archers prevailing in 2004 and FEU winning the year afterwards. However, La Salle’s 2004 championship was forfeited and handed to the Tamaraws instead after a controversial ineligibility issue, which also caused DLSU’s suspension in 2006.


People often say that sports are made more interesting by the presence of rivalries that increase the intensity and excitement of matches and tournaments. With the presence of equally gritty teams like those fielded by Ateneo, UST, and FEU, La Salle is definitely no stranger to rivalries. While DLSU sports teams would always run the risk of dropping matches against the very talented squads of these schools, the heightened playing standards brought about by playing against these rivals are indubitably advantageous not only to the athletes themselves, but also to the audience being entertained.