By Tony Lebron Atayde, Jr.
The DLSU Green Archers were the favourites ever since the Filoil tournament sweep they achieved. The team could have swept the UAAP and it would not have been a surprise to most.
Was it as easy as the results showed? A championship in Coach Aldin Ayo’s maiden year after leading Letran to an NCAA championship has never been done. So how did it happen?
Coach Juno Sauler resigned, Coach Aldin Ayo was not coming back to Letran, a search for a new coach began, it was decided on, a call was made, a meeting arranged and everyone came to terms. Aldin Ayo became the coach of the DLSU Green Archers. He wasn’t an alumnus like previous UAAP coaches; he was hardly known by the Lasallian community, and relatively young for such a pressured filled position. He and his personally chosen coaching staff introduced themselves, explained the program and got to know the players. Coach Aldin’s first practices were at 5 am. He moved into the dorm with the players. The Holy Mass was very important to him. His devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia is strong.
MAYHEM was introduced. The players followed and trusted. Jeron begins to rise as a leader. The long awaited debut of Ben Mbala was about to happen. Individually and collectively, the team had one goal, to win the championship.
Torralba decides to go back to the States. Gob gets injured and Baltazar (last year’s Junior Finals MVP) moves into the roster. Montalbo was coming back from a major injury. Perkins and Sargent do not suit up for the Filoil tournament and questions swirl if they were coming back.
A Sweep of the Filoil Tournament. Tratter and Go show their vastly improved game. Langston shows his range. Caracut is beginning to mature.
Torres and Teng were in their last year and really made the sacrifices to get this team united. Melecio, last season Juniors MVP joins the team. LSGH standout Ricci Rivero also decides to play with brother Prince who is now leaner and stronger. Melecio’s teammate from DLS- Zobel Paraiso joins too.
Mark Dyke, a UAAP Juniors MVP, decides to stay in La Salle. Sargent and Perkins come back and have to work to earn a spot.
MAYHEM is being implemented and every player has to embrace it. The word becomes a rallying call of the whole Lasallian community.
Just before opening day, Langston is deemed ineligible. It’s a 15 man roster.
UAAP season begins. DLSU vs. FEU. DLSU wins and does so 12 successive times. Jeron has an operation on his foot, early in the season, Officiating is horrible. DLSU’s
bench has been a big factor.
Eyeglass incident happens in Game 6. Coach Aldin suspended for Game 7. With Coach Aldin suspended and Jeron Teng out, DLSU still beats Ateneo. Five more wins follow.
Game 13 was unlucky for DLSU, being beaten by Ateneo. DLSU comes back in Game no. 14 by beating FEU. Loss to Ateneo becomes a blessing as there would no stepladder that would have kept the Archers idle for at least 3 weeks.
Final Four begins! With Coach Franz’s wizardry and sloppy play from DLSU, the Falcons made a game of it but DLSU still won. Coach Aldin is livid at the team despite the win. He was now more focused at the goal which was the championship. Personally, I saw how strong this DLSU team was after this game.
Ateneo and FEU went 2 games, after FEU stunned ADMU but ADMU wins the series.
The Finals! DLSU vs. ADMU
DLSU takes game 1 with Ateneo giving a good fight. Individual awards given MVP, Mbala. Mythical 5, Teng and Mbala and Rookie of the Year Melecio.
Game 2 was about the will of Jeron Teng to end his collegiate playing career with a championship. It was a THE game where MAYHEM was on display. DLSU takes crown. ANIMO reigns supreme for this season. Future looks bright.
That’s one season in 4 pages. It’s not as simple as it sounds. There was a lot of sweat, tears, laughter, anxious moments, frustrations and many more feelings in winning this championship.
What many do not see are the daily activities that many unknown people go through. From the OSD to the last utility person are part of this. The alumni who constantly support DLSU, this championship is ours too. Winning a championship is about how people interact for that one goal. That applies in all sports.
We are not 16 different schools. So wherever you are, whatever campus you belong to, whatever age or gender, WE ARE ONE LA SALLE!