Achiev­ing unity through hoops

Business World - - Banking&finance - J. AL­BERT GAM­BOA

What a glo­ri­ous end­ing this week for the Univer­sity Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion of the Philip­pines (UAAP) Sea­son 81 men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment that drew record crowds dur­ing its last two games at Mall of Asia Arena and Smart Araneta Coli­seum.

Fig­ur­ing in the fi­nals were my two ter­tiary alma maters: Ate­neo de Manila Univer­sity (ADMU), where I ob­tained an eco­nom­ics de­gree, and Univer­sity of the Philip­pines (UP), of which I am an MBA grad­u­ate.

Both are lo­cated along Katipunan Av­enue in Que­zon City, thus giv­ing rise to the first-ever “Bat­tle of Katipunan” in UAAP bas­ket­ball his­tory. Both have of­ten topped the list of the coun­try’s best ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, hav­ing been known more for their aca­demic cre­den­tials than for their ath­letic prow­ess.

But since the start of the 21st cen­tury, ADMU’s Blue Ea­gles have be­come a ma­jor hoops pow­er­house. This, af­ter win­ning back-to-back cham­pi­onships in 1987 and 1988, fol­lowed by their so-called “Dark Ages” that ended in 2002 with a come-from-be­hind vic­tory against their long-time ri­vals, De La Salle Univer­sity’s Green Archers.

Then came their un­prece­dented “five-peat” era from 2008 to 2012 and an­other ti­tle drought un­til they re­gained the crown last year. As this sea­son’s de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, they were ex­pected to re­tain the tro­phy be­cause of their stel­lar per­for­mance dur­ing the pre-sea­son – capped by an al­most-podium fin­ish at the Jones Cup in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment in Taipei, where they played against top-rated pro­fes­sional teams and na­tional squads from Asia-Pa­cific, Europe, Mid­dle East, and North Amer­ica.

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