Varsity Sports Updates (Sportswriter’s Notebook)- Conversations with Vice Mayor Francis Zamora: UAAP Season 62 and the last known men’s basketball finals showdown between La Salle and UST

Oct, 01, 2013

Tuesday

7:30 p.m.

Banana Leaf Restaurant,

The Promenade Mall,

Greenhills

San Juan

–         BLAST FROM THE PAST

Season 62 was the last known season that a finals encounter between the La Salle Green Archers and the University of Santo Tomas Tigers took place.

I remember that year, and the day they played. But that was 14 years ago. This year, the Green Archers and the Tigers meet again, and memories of the past are coming back, and remembered again.

Reliving it on my own is something I can do while looking at available articles that exists in archives.

But, hearing it from the team captain of the winning team, Francis Zamora (now vice mayor of San Juan) is another.

Talking and hearing him retell the details  with emotion, passion, and a sense of nostalgia is truly priceless.

And so, this is what I did when I entered Banana Leaf Restaurant last Tuesday evening, at the Greenhills Promenade Mall.

The Vice, elegant in his white long sleeved barong, sat next to Sportsmaryosep blogger and Philstar scribe Joey Villar and his wife, the nine-month pregnant Kristel Satumbaga-Villar (Manila Bulletin).

Oct03Blast3

(photo op with San Juan Vice Mayor Francis Zamora).

He warmly shakes my hands, and acknowledges my presence, remembering that I was among the scribes who watched him and teammates (the crew is led by Ren Ren Ritualo, Don Allado and Dino Aldeguer) play throughout his varsity years.

He invited sports scribes who are known to cover the varsity sports scene because he was kinda feeling sentimental and nostalgic about the coming 76th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball finals.

So I braved the traffic of Dasmarinas, Cavite (where I covered another intercollegiate event) to get to San Juan by 7:30 p.m.

Over spicy laksa and chicken satay,  and tilapia with assam sambal sauce, and other tasty dishes, he talks affectionately about the season, 14 years ago, when the Green Archers and the Tigers clashed in a classic finals showdown at the Cuneta Astrodome.

With us are Abante’s Mark Escarlote, Inquirer’s Jasmine Payo,  Philstar scribe and byolmins blogger Olmin Leyba, Balita’s Marivic Awitan, Bulletin’s Jonas Terrado, Meilin Lozada (spin.ph), Reuben Terrado (spin.ph), Bandera’s Mike Lee and Journal’s Theodore Jurado.

Here’s excerpts of what Vice said:

“1999. Ang pinaka-memorable nun ay iyung Game 3. I remember that very well. Sa Cuneta Astrodome ang finals.”

(Note: La Salle won over UST, 84-79, to earn the first seeding in a one-game playoff. UST took the no. 2 seeding. In the Final Four, La Salle prevailed over Far Eastern University, 91-69, while UST defeated Ateneo, 75-74.  In Game 1 of the finals, UST scored a 62-60 triumph over La Salle. La Salle bounces back in Game 2, 81-74. In Game 3, La Salle wins it, 78-75, in overtime).

“We were down by 10 points in the last five minutes. Unti-unti naming nahabol, hanggang naka-shoot si Dino Aldeguer ng three-point play at na-foul pa. Pero hindi niya na-shoot iyung charity kaya tied yung game at nag-overtime.”

(Note: This is how it was remembered and recalled at Go Archers.com, and through my own recollection: On  October 9 1999, at the Cuneta Astrodome, with 26 seconds to go and La Salle was down by  two, Renren Ritualo made an attempt from the side and missed.

His teammate Allado, who was adjudged as the Most Valuable Player, went for a follow up and  missed as well.

He fouled Gilbert Lao, who then converted his free throws. The first was short while the next attempt, bounced and circled the rim twice and rolled  in. UST held a three point lead, 67-64,  and were 18 seconds away from another date at the altar.

Aldeguer moved up court and went to Ritualo who raced to the corner, and he was stalked by two opponents.

Ritualo spun, faked, and then passed off to Allado. Allado felt he had no chance of scoring, so he sent it back to Aldeguer, who release a triple off and intercepting  Nino Gelig, who fouled him in the process).

“I remember the overtime. We had a chance to win it pa rin. I remember Angelo Velasco. He threw three points which fortunately missed. Kasi lahat ng three points na binabato ng UST pag championship, for some reason, pumapasok, eh.  From Henry Ong, Gerard Francisco to Dale Singson. Maraming pumapasok. Eventually, La Salle won its first back-to-back championship.”

(To be continued)

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