MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo had the size, height and greater professional accolades combined. But the biggest motivator for La Salle was pride.
It was clearly evident Sunday night when the Green Archers shot down the Blue Eagles, 117-104, in a charity match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum that pitted former players of the most compelling college basketball rivalry who now play for different teams in the PBA.
Don Allado, the oldest alumni on the floor at 32, looked like a spry 25-year-old again, powering the Archers’ small frontline past Ateneo’s massive lineup to win the MVP trophy.
Mac Cardona also made the La Salle community proud, his ferocity in attacking the rim helping the Archers reverse a winning trend by the Eagles in the UAAP, at least in this game.
“We’re now even,” said the 6-foot-6 Allado, a two-time UAAP MVP when La Salle ruled the league in 1998 and 1999.
“If I say something, I’m going to back it up,” added Allado, who, before the game, antagonized the opposition with strong words in his Twitter account.
Behind Allado, Carlo Sharma, Jerwin Gaco and Rico Maierhofer, the Archers shredded the Eagles frontcourt led by the 6-9 Japeth Aguilar, 6-6s Rico Villanueva and Paolo Bugia, and paint defenders Rich Alvarez, Nonoy Baclao and Doug Kramer.
La Salle grabbed 57 rebounds, 17 of them offensive boards, against Ateneo’s 42.
JV Casio, Ryan Araña, Mike Cortez, Joseph Yeo and Renren Ritualo also delivered as the Archers came up with a 52.4 percent (44 of 84) shooting clip.
But for the crowd, it was a trip down memory lane.
LA Tenorio electrified the Big Dome with his passing wizardry, reminiscent of his rookie days at the Ateneo when he dazzled the Archers in a Game 1 Finals victory in 2001.
The streak-shooting Ritualo sank three-pointers from his favorite spot in the corner, evoking memories of countless Ateneo heartbreakers during his La Salle days in the late 1990s up to 2001.
Feted with a standing ovation before the start of the game, Ritualo’s long jumper put the Green team comfortably ahead, 61-48, with 1.4 ticks to go before the half. He pointed to the La Salle faithful and bounced off the court on the way to the dugout.
It was an all-Green show after that as coach Franz Pumaren’s troops jumped to a 19-point lead in the game presented by the PBA for the benefit of cancer patients of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center.
The Green squad avenged an 88-85 Ateneo win in another dream game in 2005 marred by a fight between Villanueva and Yeo.
LA SALLE 117—Allado 23, Cardona 20, Casio 13, Sharma 12, Arana 9, Maierhofer 9, Yeo 9, Ritualo 8, Cortez 8, Aquino 3, Gaco 3.
ATENEO 104—Tenorio 20, Villanueva 19, Aguilar 16, Fonacier 14, Intal 13, Kramer 7, Salamat 4, Baclao 4, Membrere 3, Alvarez 2, Bugia 2.
Quarters: 34-20, 61-48, 94-75, 117-104