For someone who experienced La Salle's dominant run that bridged the 90s and 00s - the golden days of the Don Allados, Renren Ritualos, Mike Cortezes and Macmac Cardonas - I never thought I'd see the day where the Green Archers would lose back-to-back games to the NU Bulldogs. Yes, those NU Bulldogs.
Except, it's not exactly "those NU Bulldogs" now, is it? This is a testament to how far the program has come since the institution was purchased by the SM Sys. The former whipping boys retained everything good from last season (Jewel Ponferrada, Mervin Baloran and to some extent, Kokoy Hermosisima) and added some actual recruitment from the high school ranks (Letran's Glenn Khobuntin and San Beda's Ivan Ludovice) and a foreign player in Emmanuel Mbe. This is a talented team and one that has, for the first time, won back-to-back against one of the most successful basketball programs in the country. Of course, the wins were about 10 months apart, but it still counts as two in a row.
But this also says a lot about the current makeup of the DLSU lineup. It seems strange that we can actually label the Green Archers a rookie-laden squad, two years running. No doubt, that puts them in an enviable position to win a title two or three years from now. But rebuilding two years in a row? That's has to be tough for supporters, especially those who have been used to championship hardware.
And looking at both teams' rosters, should this result really be considered an upset?
Meanwhile, just hours earlier, the Ateneo Blue Eagles beat Adamson for the 26th consecutive time. Yup, that's no typo. 26 consecutive. 26 wins in 13 years. The last time the Falcons beat the Blue Eagles was in 1997, when Eddie Laure and Gherome Ejercito were still on the roster. That was how long ago that was.
And despite some promising performances in the preseason tourneys (doesn't it seem like Adamson always beats Ateneo in the summer leagues?) and some serious final four aspirations, they just couldn't pull it off when it really mattered. Well, Adamson will get at least another try this year, and if they do get into final four, maybe they'll get multiple chances to end the streak of futility. Maybe the NU victory gives the Falcons a glimmer of hope. Maybe the league is due for a shakeup.
Some things will change this season, and some things will stay the same. But it's looking like it'll be tough to predict which ones are which.