We cap off an amazing decade by presenting the 10 most significant, action-packed and best remembered games of the Green Archers from 2000 to 2009. For the past 10 seasons, the Archers fought in numerous classic battles but these by far stand out the most.
10 –September 30, 2007– La Salle 65, Ateneo 60 – Semi-Final Knockout Match
La Salle was only able to win 2 out of the 5 meetings against Ateneo in 2007 but those two victories matter the most. Aside from winning the playoff game for the twice-to-beat advantage in the semis, the Green Archers also prevailed over the Blue Eagles in a thrilling sudden death showdown for the last finals berth.
Cholo Villanueva scored 9 of his 13 points in the final period as well as a crucial offensive rebound in the closing minutes to seal the victory.
9- July 15, 2000 – La Salle 94, Ateneo 70 – Opening Day
With the departure of Don Allado and Dino Aldeguer, the Green Archers were expected to be trampled by the intact and heavily-favored Blue Eagles in the opening game of the 2000 season.
It sure seemed like it in the first half as La Salle played catch-up for most of the way. But a sudden explosion early in the 2nd half catapulted the Archers to the driver’s seat for the first time in the game. They did not look back from then on.
Rookie Mike Cortez had a spectacular debut in the UAAP with 14 points, 10 assists and 6 steals. It was defense that propelled the Green Archers to victory. They had 19 steals in this contest.
8 – September 25, 2003– La Salle 76, Ateneo 72 – Final Four Game 1
The Mac Cardona-less Archers displayed remarkable courage under fire in regulation and in extension to force a do-or-die match for a finals berth. Defending champion Ateneo overwhelmingly defeated the rookie-laden La Salle squad twice in the eliminations and was heavily favored to have an easy sailing in the Final 4.
With the injured Cardona haplessly watching from the sidelines, the overconfident Eagles thought they could feast on the already given up for good Archers. Joseph Yeo took the cudgels all by himself en route to 31-point performance.
7- October 4, 2007– La Salle 64, UE 63 – The Finals Game 1
UE may have swept the entire elimination round but when it comes to a championship series, experience still matters. The finals-tested Green Archers capitalized on the Red Warriors’ 31 turnovers to nail a pulsating come-from-behind win.
Defense proved to be the critical factor to the Archers’ win and in the series wherein they eventually swept UE to cap-off a remarkable return in the UAAP after a 1-year absence.
6- August 28, 2008– La Salle 81, UST 79 – Elimination Round
Rookie Maui Villanueva scored on a tip-in off a missed lay-up with only a tenth of a second left in the game clock as the Green Archers escaped with a thrilling victory.
5- August 2, 2009– La Salle 101, UST 92 – Elimination Round
The Green Archers trailed by 12 to start the 4th period but were able to mount a rally to even the score at the end of regulation.
Peejay Barua sent the game to another extra session with a trey off an inbound pass. Rookie Arvie Bringas showed the stuff he was made of, scoring 13 of his game-high 21 points down the stretch.
4- September 1, 2005– La Salle 86, UE 83 – Elimination Round
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The Green Archers survived an overtime thriller of a match against the University of the East Warriors. In one of the most bizarre endings in UAAP history, the Archers were comfortably on top, 72-68 with less than 20 seconds on the game clock. Strangely, the Archers committed a series of lapses in the closing seconds which resulted to the Warriors regaining the lead 74-72 with only 1.8 seconds left. With only a second remaining after a botched attempt, Cholo Villanueva knocked in a basket from a baseline pass to send the game into overtime.
Though this game was eventually protested and replayed (Which the Archers still won), this was still a real humdinger of a ballgame.
3- September 30, 2004– La Salle 68, FEU 65 – Finals Game 3
Down by 2 with only less than 30 seconds left, JV Casio drilled in a clutch three-pointer to give the Archers the lead. A key defensive stop in the ensuing play enabled the team to escape with the win.
2- October 16, 2001 – La Salle 93, Ateneo 88 – The Finals Game 3
The Green Archers overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to win its 4th straight UAAP championship. Ren Ren Ritualo caught fire in the second half to ignite the team’s comeback. He finished with 15 points and bagged the Finals MVP award.
Overshadowing Ritualo in this game though was rookie Carlo Sharma who had a stellar performance with 22 points. He did a masterful job in limiting Ateneo star center Enrico Villanueva to just 5 markers in the game.
1- August 22, 2002 – La Salle 91, UST 89 – Elimination Round
In what probably could be the greatest comeback in UAAP basketball, the Green Archers erased an 18-point deficit in the final 5 minutes of regulation to force overtime and eventually defeat the UST Growling Tigers.
Sophomore Joseph Yeo was adjudged the best player of the ballgame. He sent the game to an extra period with a clutch trey.
So there you have it! Expect more great action and dramatic finished in the seasons to come.
If you are new to this site, be sure to check out our All Decade Team article published some months back.