Fans of the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles and University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons are looking back at the long history between the two collegiate squads in the 48 hours before they tip-off in the first game of their University Athletics Association of the Philippines Season 81 men’s basketball finals series on Saturday.
The odds are tilted in favor of Ateneo, who beat UP in both the first and second halves of the elimination round. The defending champions beat the Maroons 87-79 in the first round and 83-66 in the second, for an average lead of 12.5 points.
In media interviews after UP’s 89-97 overtime victory over the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Wednesday, UP coach Bo Perasol, who served as Ateneo’s coach from 2013 to 2015, admitted that the Blue Eagles were the favorite to win the title.
“No basketball aficionado in his right mind would probably give us a good chance against Ateneo,” Perasol, who led Ateneo to the final four in 2014 and 2015 but failed to advance, admitted. He however clarified that UP would still be giving its best against the defending champion.
“There is something there that we do, that’s going to keep us going forward, looking to that championship game against Ateneo,” he added. “We need to keep fighting, no matter what the odds are. That had been our team principle in this season.”
Amid the excitement, some fans are pointing out how Katipunan Avenue, the thoroughfare in Quezon City that separates the Ateneo campus from the UP Diliman campus, was the real battleground.
Others quipped that nearby establishments that serve as hangout spots for students from the two schools should also be included in the winner’s war booty.
battle of katipunan
winner gets up town center
— Hans Bosshard (@bosshardhans) November 28, 2018
Others are looking at how students from the two schools blast their thoughts on social media.
nako UP vs Ateneo. Battle of the Online Thinkpieces
— tata (@tatayap) November 28, 2018
Due to their close proximity, students and faculty from the two schools are often seen flocking to the same restaurants, cafes, malls and drinking spots in the area.
The two schools’ academic reputation has also been a point of comparison for the two schools. Both have produced a good number of public servants. At least eight of the Philippines’ 16 presidents were educated at either Ateneo or UP at one point. At least 13 of the current members of Senate received an education from either school.
The basketball story
According to some sources, the “Battle of Katipunan” may actually be the first collegiate basketball rivalry, as students from UP’s Padre Faura campus reportedly started playing organized basketball with students from Ateneo’s Intramuros campus in the early 20th century, even before the UAAP and the National Collegiate Athletics Association were formed.
The annual match-up in later years was dubbed “The Battle of Katipunan” after the schools established campuses near the Katipunan Avenue area.
When the NCAA was formed, the Fighting Maroons became its inaugural powerhouse. In 1929, it faced off against the Blue Eagles and lost.
Some are looking back at the recent basketball history between the two squads.
thinking back 2 2009 when UP won one (1) game against ateneo who were basically basketball royalty in those years and it was such a laughable thought that the headlines said "eagles lose" instead of "maroons win" and now !!
— fiel (@lonerlust) November 29, 2018
Astonishing that Ateneo and UP will meet in the UAAP Finals for the very first time. UP won their last UAAP title (1986) the year before Ateneo won their first UAAP title (1987)
— Mico Halili (@micohalili) November 29, 2018
While the debate over the two schools’ academic reputation has been a tightly-contested affair, Ateneo has dominated the head-to-head men’s basketball record in modern days. According to Spin.ph, the Blue Eagles prevailed in 27 of the school’s 30 meetings from the last 15 years.
UP ended the drought when it beat Ateneo 56-52 in October 2016.
Game 1 will be on Saturday, 3:30 p.m at the Mall of Asia Arena.