MANILA, Philippines—This one is not a fantasy league that features an intimidating frontcourt combination of Enrico Villanueva, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Noy Baclao and Japeth Aguilar, or a dazzling backcourt mixture of Mike Cortez, JV Casio, and Mac Cardona.
Only in a dream match featuring long-time college rivals Ateneo and La Salle can one witness a collection of basketball superstars gathered in a single major event.
On Feb. 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the Archers and Eagles renew their age-old cage rivalry by playing a one-game exhibition match dubbed `Blue vs. Green: Dream Game 2012.’
Norman Black, architect of Ateneo’s dominant four-year reign (2008-2011) in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament, will call the shots for the Katipunan-based squad, while Franz Pumaren, who authored a similar four-peat rule by the Archers from 1998-2001, will be the one at the helm of La Salle’s bench.
Villanueva, Al-Hussaini, Baclao and Aguilar comprise the Ateneo roster that also includes L.A Tenorio, JC Intal, Larry Fonacier, Doug Kramer, Rich Alvarez, Wesley Gonzales, Magnum Membrere, and Eric Salamat.
The trio of Cortez, Casio,and Cardona banner the La Salle side to be reinforced by RenRen Ritualo, Don Allado, Joseph Yeo, Rico Maierhoffer, Willie Wilson, TY Tang, Ryan Arana, Carlo Sharma, Jerwin Gaco, and Brian Ilad.
All 25 players are currently seeing action in the PBA.
This marks the first Ateneo-La Salle exhibition game in four years, since the two proud schools fought to a 90-90 standoff in a 2008 charity match. Being an exhibition encounter, there was no extra period played.
A similar, memorable matchup took place in 2005 best remembered for the fight that broke up between Villanueva and Yeo, who was ejected out of the game. Villanueva won the game for the Eagles with a three-pointer in the dying seconds, 88-85.
Considered one of the colorful and greatest rivalries in Philippine sports, the basketball competition between La Salle-Ateneo dates back to the early years of the NCAA, where both schools were founding members, and carried on to the UAAP until these days.
Over the last decade, the Eagles and Archers met for the UAAP men’s basketball title three times, with Ateneo winning in 2002 and 2008 and the Archers prevailing in 2001.