After 5 years of being bludgeoned black and blue (black for Coach Norman, blue for Ateneo), this year’s recently-concluded UAAP Basketball Conference has come out refreshingly exciting and new. With abundant story-lines in varying categories, this season was a virtual soap opera giving us a taste of suspense-thrillers and drama, love stories, romance, action/adventure, and what-else-have-you.
This season even had a heart-tugging climax, as the Teng brothers – Jeric and Jeron – clashed. How can our world be so cruel and unjust to give us a not-so-happy ending where brothers turn against each other? How can fate decide that the only 2 teams powered by siblings would mix-and-match for the finals? Indeed, this was a plot that could have only been hatched in Korea’s tele-novela film studios!
But then, love triumphs after all, as Jeron – after winning the championship and the Finals MVP award to boot – raises the hand of elder brother, Jeric, in a sign of reconciliation and respect. What message can be as poignant and as powerful in its goodness as that? What human drama so beautifully crafted? So sit back and relax, as we try to give you some snippets to reminisce the thrills and frills of a season that clearly portrayed this year’s UAAP theme: “Greatness Never Ends”.
For starters, let’s talk about the suspense-thriller as the race progressed. With no clear favorite at the betting lines, 6 handsome thoroughbreds galloped and alternately pounded and faltered. Here’s how the race announcer marked the UAAP Derby ending. “Rounding the clubhouse turn, it’s Tamaraw and Bulldog on the lead, followed by Green Archer, Blue Eagle and Red Warrior on the outside. Into the homestretch, it’s now Bulldog towing Tamaraw and Archer, Tiger making a bid from the inside. And to the finish line, it’s Growling Tiger racing past Bulldog on the inside, Archer ahead of Tamaraw. Tiger now neck-to-neck with Green Archer! It’s Tiger ahead with jockey Jarencio pushing! Archer making a move as jockey Sauler brings out the whip. Tiger regains the lead, Archer claws back! Heading for a photo-finish. It’s…. Green Archer by a nose!!!”
For drama, who can forget the final game which took us to a climactic hair-pulling, heart-stopping, hernia-inducing overtime? From a seemingly unfathomable 15-point lead, the Archers mount a searing rally, tying the count in regulation time. The gods of hoop heaven must have been sleeping – or they must have been so undecided – for up to the last seconds in overtime, the game was still up for grabs. Jeric would give UST its last taste of the lead at 69-67 with 30 seconds remaining. But Jeron would engineer La Salle’s next 2 offensives. When the buzzer sounded, pandemonium exploded in half the Arena. The other half simply froze; stunned, silenced and sullen.
For action, how about Ateneo coach Bo Perasol chasing a heckling fan? Action was no longer confined to the hardcourt, as emotions ran high. Every game and every point and every second mattered, making this year’s UAAP basketball bash a big risk for the faint of heart.
For our love story, there was Bobby Ray Parks Jr dedicating his sterling season to his recently-departed dad. Legendary PBA star Bobby Parks Sr. had passed away last March due to cancer. He had nurtured and tutored his son, Ray, into becoming a 2-time MVP in the UAAP. Ray would almost single-handedly bring the NU Bulldogs to the top of the heap, seemingly willed on by the spirit of his dad. Ray’s campaign for a dream season finally crashed against the doggedly-determined defense of UST in the semifinals. UST had come fully prepared to exorcize the meddling ghost of Bobby. But surely, Bobby’s spirit must be proud of his son’s exploits, and happy for the bright future ahead for him.
But the Teng household’s ‘torn between two brothers’ would overshadow this love story. When it became clear that Jeric and Jeron would be duking it out for all the marbles in the UAAP Men’s Basketball Championship, the family’s balance was somehow affected. Who and how do you cheer when 2 sons are battling against each other? Whose side of the Arena do you seat with? What wise words can you say when besieged by a media that thrives on issues and intrigues? For a harrowing 2 weeks, the cheers had to be tempered, statements properly worded, even shirt colors had to be neutered. Such was the dilemma of the Teng Family.
And finally, for romance, it’s got to be Jeric and Jeron jostling for Julia. Yes, folks, the Teng brothers aren’t through fighting yet. After the crown, there’s a goddess that needs to be taken. We see that in the movies, don’t we? Frau Julia Montes, of Deutsch and dinengdeng origin. Like Helen of Troy of ancient Greece, a face that could launch a thousand ……. balls?!??
Indeed, what a season this has been! The drama, the thrills, the tears and the cheers. Like a roller-coaster ride that took us through many ups and downs, through endless twists and turns. And at the end of the ride, we all tumble out. Exhausted, yes. Shaken a bit. But certainly happy for the exhilarating experience. Thank you, all, for the wonderful memories.
I can’t wait for next year!!!!!
(Photos courtesy of spin.ph, abs-cbn news, twicsy.com, gmanetwork.com, philnews.ph, centralluzondaily.net, twitter.whotalking.com, bonifacionews.blogspot.com, philstar.com, the lasallian, august de la cruz, reniel rebadomia)