By Eriko dela Cruz
In a league where every university gets 14 games per season (more if you enter the Final Four), every day counts.
However, Saturday and Sunday games usually get the most hype because a lot of people are in school or at work during the weekday games. This is usually the UAAP’s downtime, where ticket sales dip a bit.
Weekdays however, is where a lot of the UAAP’s magic happens.
Titos probably remember that Thursday in 2002 when Gec Chia stepped back and drained a game winner against the UE Red Warriors to get to the finals. Gec Chia was having a sub-par game but his last two field goals sealed the win for Ateneo, extending their season for three more games.
Remember in 2006, when UST beat UE to enter the Finals? They were counted out by everybody and their mother after starting the season horribly. That was a Thursday.
In 2007, the 13-0 UE Red Warriors met the DLSU Green Archers. It is not as immortalized as the game where Brian Ilad channeled his inner Manny Salgado and gave Mark Fampulme a cheap shot on the nape. Few remember however how close this game was. Classic.
But these were not just any other weekday. These were just a few examples of how wild these games can get.
In 2008, it was also a UAAP weekday when Rabeh Al-Hussaini introduced his Super Saiyan MVP form to the UAAP, scoring 33 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. The Blue Eagles fell short that day, but Rabeh’s star continued to rise.
It was a gloomy Wednesday afternoon in 2015 when Ateneo and NU battled it out through two overtimes. Kiefer Ravena hit a crazy stepback 3-pointer to tie the game. He swished in a layup off the break to tie the game again in overtime, then finished it off on the second OT.
Who can forget the legend that is Alvin Pasaol? Air Sambokojin poured a mind-blowing 49 points, the highest point total by a local since Jeff Napa (coach Jeff Napa for the young ones) in 2002. Oh, did I mention that he did this against Ben Mbala and the DLSU Green Archers? And they almost won that one? La Salle did not even have the Animo Squad in the game.
Finally, in 2018, UP vs DLSU in round 2 had very serious implications. Should UP win, they book their first Final Four appearance since 1997. If La Salle wins, they seal their spot in the semis, while closing the door on UP. Juan Gomez De Liano was a house on fire that game, scoring 27 points to beat La Salle, 97-81. The weekday shenanigans do not end there, as the playoff between FEU and DLSU was also played on a Wednesday. FEU completed a 7-2 run late in the game, including an Arvin Tolentino game-winning three, to send the Green Archers packing.
Today is also a UAAP weekday. NU beat the heavily-favored UP Fighting Maroons, ensuring there is a Final Four. UE won against a DLSU team that took Ateneo down just a few days prior.
You gotta love UAAP basketball, because crazy exciting things can happen on any day.