I love basketball. I appreciate the grace and the physicality of the sport. That is why even if my school team Ateneo Blue Eagles failed to make it to the UAAP championship, I still wanted to watch the NU-FEU title finals.
Luckily my mother is an FEU alumna. I was treated to patron seats for games 1 and 2.
NU and FEU were evenly matched: for top-caliber point guards, the Bulldogs had Gelo Alolino and the Tamaraws, Mike Tolomia; multitasking forwards in Troy Rosario and Glenn Khobuntin for NU, and Mac Belo and RR Pogoy for FEU; high-flying big men in NU’s Alfred Aroga and FEU’s Anthony Hargrove.
Both teams played well offensively and defensively, and they had the heart to win the championship. NU and FEU truly deserve to be in the finals.
Technicalities aside, I really enjoyed the games—though it was sort of a culture shock for me, having been accustomed to an older audience when Ateneo was playing.
The NU and FEU crowds were mostly students, and this was evident in their high-pitched voices. Cheers of “Eeey! NU! Let’s Go!” and “Let’s go Tamaraws!” erupted almost every minute, and went on from start to finish.
But what struck me most was the respect both teams had for each other. No player was booed during free throws. There were distractions, of course, but no rude words or gestures were hurled. When TV personality Vice Ganda was caught on the video screen, everybody cheered.
This year’s UAAP Finals was unexpected, but a very welcome surprise. Who knows, these two schools might start a friendly rivalry in the coming years.
Congratulations to NU for winning the title after 60-year drought! And to my mom’s alma mater, FEU, keep reaching for the stars!