Last weekend was a busy one for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) with a number of teams/schools crowned as champions for various tournaments in Season 80.
Among those newly minted teams are the Adamson University Pep Squad which topped the cheerdance competition (CDC) last Saturday and the National University Lady Bulldogs as the women’s basketball champions and Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles with the men’s hoops title last Sunday.
Adamson winning the CDC was history-making as it marked the first time the San Marcelino-based school has claimed the title for the event which has become a marquee competition in the UAAP in the last decade.
Banking on a retro-inspired performance that saw it crisply executing its routine, the Adamson Pep Squad proved itself one of the deserving teams to vie for a podium finish in a field that was pretty much competitive than in any time in recent years.
That it eventually was named as the winner was not at all surprising for it was truly one of the best performances that day, considering as well how even rival schools were seemingly smitten by its performance.
Also winding up on the podium were the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Salinggawi Dance Troupe, which finished first runner-up, and the University of the East (UE) Pep Squad, second runner-up.
With the win, Adamson joined UST, Far Eastern University, University of the Philippines and National University (NU) as the only schools to have won the event in its 23 years being featured in the UAAP.
Good for Adamson, and the league and fans in general, for we have more teams to watch out for in the coming years.
Also making history of their own were the NU Lady Bulldogs, who claimed their fourth straight UAAP women’s basketball title by sweeping the UE Lady Warriors in their best-of-three finals.
Winning 79-68 in Game Two on Sunday, the Lady Bulldogs not only claimed the title for Season 80 but they also extended their UAAP winning streak to 64 games dating back to 2014.
Steadiness and dedication to perfection could not be more stated for the Patrick Aquino-coached Lady Bulldogs in this impressive run of theirs.
Players have come and gone but NU has remained steady in UAAP women’s hoops which speaks a lot of the kind of program they have installed there in Bustillos.
In Game Two, the Lady Bulldogs were tested by a resilient UE team, led by Ruthlaine Tacula, but the former stayed the course despite struggling here and there to hack out the championship-clinching and streak-continuing victory.
It was a total team effort for NU with finals most valuable player Trixie Antiquera leading with 19 points, Rhena Itesi had a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds and Ria Nabalan 14 points.
Season MVP Jack Animam only had nine points but grabbed 23 rebounds, further testament to the depth of the team.
Scary still, the Lady Bulldogs are not about done and set to continue to lord it over in the coming seasons.
Then there are the Blue Eagles, deserving winners in what I consider to be one of the best finals series in the UAAP in recent years.
Well I am pretty sure most of you saw how things unfolded between the latest chapter on the rivalry on the basketball court of Ateneo and De La Salle University, it is still worth underscoring the “beauty” of it all for how much drama it presented both and off the court and how heroes abounded in the series.
Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena was a deserving finals MVP for his do-it-all ways; Isaac Go was clutch through and through; and the Eagles as a team was the better in this chapter.
This is not to say La Salle did not make a good account of itself, far from it actually for amid the “issues” the Archers claimed to have hounded them all season long they put themselves in a solid position to repeat as champions.
The Eagles just produced the stops and shots that were needed in the finals all told, and now they are back on top.
Indeed, last weekend was a delight to be UAAP fan for the “winning” setting it had.
Well-deserving champions were crowned, and congratulations to them. Now looking forward to what the second semester holds for the UAAP.
Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld reporter covering the Sports beat.