Unpredictable UAAP Season 86


JUST two weeks into the new season of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), the league is already living up to its reputation of being interesting, intriguing and unpredictable.

With quadruple headers in both men’s and women’s tournaments serving up buffet fare for fans and faithful, unexpected scenarios have played out to fascinate and surprise.

Tearjerkers some, cliffhangers others, all are amazing tales of individual team journeys coming to life on the court. Filled with drama and jaw dropping outcomes, unlikely scenarios and stunning end games, these are what make collegiate sports addictive to fans.

Like who would have thought the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers are currently at the bottom of the standings. Both teams have proud traditions in the UAAP and have been the classic top dogs of tournaments past.

UST played most recently in the Season 81 (2018) men’s basketball Finals and has always been a dominant force in the league. FEU has been an erstwhile member of the Final Four cast, if not the finals itself. Its last championship was in Season 78 (2015), curiously fought against UST.

But this season, both teams have been hugging the bottom, with FEU falling further into a 0-4 hole as of this writing. UST, currently 0-3, needs to win over National University (NU) in its October 11 encounter. Or else it will continue to keep FEU company in the cellar.

Who would have thought the defending champs the Ateneo Blue Eagles would bow to NU on opening day, come back strong against De La Salle University in their early first round clash, then succumb to the Adamson Soaring Falcons over the weekend in totally heartbreaking fashion? With both teams then standing at 1-1, the surging Ateneans looked like they would pluck out falcon feathers all day in their Battle of the Birds.

They completely dominated their fellow bird of prey in the first three quarters and were expected to go 2-1. But came the fourth. The plucky Falcons kept their poise, nipped at the Eagles’ tails and soared high to earn their piece of sky. Matthew Montebon managed an uncontested three that forced overtime. Then a siege ensued. Both teams managed to shoot two points apiece during OT and the scoreboard froze at 71-all for almost the full five minutes. Then it happened.

With 3.3 left on the clock, Vince Magbuhos heaved a Hail Mary shot over the Hail Mary quintet. And hit gold. Banggg! For almost every minute of the contest, it was Eagles over Falcons. But that Magbuhos three changed everything. And stunned the world.

Who would have thought the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors would pull the rug from under the feet of the raging FEU Tamaraws that same quadruple weekend? Like the Eagles, the Tamaraws were toying with the Warriors for the most part of the game.

Then again in the fourth, with FEU up by 14, UE’s Gjerard Wilson and Noy Remogat conspired to make a run that would end all runs in the UAAP so far. A seemingly possessed Warriors team pulled off an incredible 22-0 blitz that totally disoriented the Tams and froze them in their paths. This was a tearjerker of a game for the FEU side, make no bones about it.

Who would have thought too that the UP women’s basketball team would conquer the defending champs and most decorated women’s team, the NU Lady Bulldogs in their own battle of the undefeated last Sunday, October 8 at the UST Quadricentennial Gym?

With both teams sporting a 2-2 record, the Fighting Maroons played with a fervor and focus that made them tame the Bulldogs, overpowering them with formidable defense and accurate shooting. How could last year’s 6-8 team beat a 13-1 team that had established a seven-year dynasty of UAAP women’s basketball championships? But that’s the UAAP for you.

In the same light, who would have thought the UP Fighting Maroons—both men’s and women’s teams—now ride atop the standings of their respective divisions? Both are sporting 4-0 records after winning over their counterparts from ADU, UE, NU and FEU. The UPMBT again frustrated the FEU Tamaraws in their game yesterday—in overtime.

Janjan Felicilda and Malick Diouf sealed the deal at the last minute in a game that could have been FEU’s first win. Similarly, the UPWBT led by Gilas stalwart Louna Ozar also squeaked past the FEU women’s team, 64-61. UP’s Malick Diouf and Favour Onoh were recently chosen as the first Men and Women Players of the Week by the collegiate press corps. This is definitely a new experience for UP. And simply unthinkable in the past.

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