AGAIN, the biggest news hands-down in sports this week is the game between Ateneo and La Salle set for tomorrow at MOA Arena in Pasay.
Even as the first whistle is yet to be blown for the match, it already has overshadowed outright Meralco’s three-game sweep of Star in the best-of-five semifinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup ending on Thursday.
The loss was doubly grievously hard to take for coach Chito Victolero, who was practically pained no end by that Game One collapse for a soul-gnawing psychological blow.
Victolero’s Hotshots blew a 17-point lead, allowing the Bolts to steal a 1-0 lead that sparked a rare three-game winning streak rarely seen in the league.
With their sweet sweep, the Bolts wait for the winner of the Ginebra-TNT KaTropa clash for the best-of-seven title showdown they lost to the Gin Kings last year.
The Gins and KaTropas were playing Game Three last night, with the winner taking a 2-1 margin.
But back to today’s game between Ateneo and La Salle.
Such is the electric atmosphere generated time and again by every battle of both teams that no other contest from any basketball league can ever match its innate impact on all angles that you want to see it.
So consuming is their rivalry that their strengths, standings in the leader board, do not matter at all each time they clash.
Thus, even if Ateneo is unbeaten in five games and La Salle has suffered one humiliating defeat at the hands of lowly University of the Philippines, their records are as useless as thrash at Payatas dumpsite.
Many a time that one of the two had a weaker lineup than the other.
But still, both sides somehow become of equal strength and engage in virtual mortal combat as though they are gladiators of another era equipped of brute force only super humans are known to possess.
La Salle now owns indisputably the best import in Ben Mbala, whose scoring power and rebounding edge has been proven and, as proof, the Archers were champs last year.
But then, Ateneo seems to have metamorphosed from mere contenders to serious title pretenders, the Eagles’ unbeaten streak a screaming testament to it.
So, hold on tight, fellers. A sporting quake like no other is again about to unfold.
Published in the SunStar Pampanga newspaper on October 07, 2017.
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