As a girl who grew up in the province, has very little knowledge about basketball (and has them only because it’s part of her high school curriculum in PE to officiate an actual game), and was not aware of the rivalry between Ateneo and La Salle until two years ago, I really didn’t understand what the hype was all about. Although I’ve been desperately badgering my friends nonstop to come watch the game with me because I wanted to know what everyone’s talking about, I really had NO IDEA what it was going to be like…until last Saturday, September 29, 2012.
I’ve only heard stories about how students camp out outside the MVP building at two in the morning to line up for tickets for the ADMU-DLSU Game. I didn’t believe it the first time I heard this, but then I read this notice issued by probably one of the persons in-charge in selling the tickets that the selling of tickets will start at 6am, and students who will camp out will be asked to leave the premises. It sounded really weird to me, that people would risk not sleeping to be able to watch a game they can see on TV. Although yes, it’s not the same if you watch it live, but in exchange for sleep? Now that’s something, especially because college students are suckers for naps (right?). But just before the day of the game, I experienced the event firsthand. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning and my friend kept calling me to get my lazy ass of my bed and go to school (because he was already there waiting for me). I was seriously deciding on ditching my friend when my good side got the better of me. I got to school at 4:35 and thought to myself, “This is stupid. We’re (my friend and I) gonna be the only ones there, and we’re gonna look really stupid and excited.” Oh how wrong I was. It looked like an organized zombie apocalypse, zombies lining up with their laptops, pocket books, playing cards, vendo drinks (I overheard one girl was complaining that the machine wouldn’t accept her coins so instead of getting water, she got a coke) and dark circles under their eyes. Again, it was bizarre (well, that’s what I thought at that time) how people would be willing to wait in line for two hours instead of sleeping in their warm beds.
On the day of the game, I wore my Ateneo shirt (which I bought just for that game) and left for Araneta at 1:30 in the afternoon. The game was scheduled at 4 pm and we started lining up at around 2. By 2:45, the line was already around 10-15 meters long. It seemed like all types of people were there. There was an old man behind me who was with a foreigner (who I couldn’t tell from which country) eating cheese burgers and fries, a conyo girl wearing a short skirt and blue top, a non-conyo girl wearing jeans and an Ateneo shirt, a cute kid with his parents who looked like they were in their late 30s, a group of teenagers wearing face paint, I could go on forever but I don’t have forever so I’ll end with an old lady who was with her son, I think. At around 3:45 the line started to move. Once inside the coliseum, the people started running and it was scary and confusing. When the place was almost half-filled, the La Salle’s band started playing and cheers erupted from the audience. It was that moment when I didn’t quite understand why yet, but I felt it, everything. I started feeling jitters and tingles. It was that feeling when you know something really great is going to happen and you’re both excited but scared but more excited than scared. And something really great did happen.
Once the game started, everybody was on their feet. It was just amazing. Everyone was cheering their hearts out, yelling “GET THAT BALL” and “GO ATENEO, ONE BIG FIGHT” with much excitement and nervousness. It definitely smelled like school spirit in there…except when Ateneo was behind by 11 points. During the timeout after that, the La Salle side was throwing out some loud (and really catchy) cheers across our side while we were glued on our seats, cheerless and nervous. At that moment I’m sure everyone was feeling that heart-wrenching But of course, the tables were turned and Ateneo caught up with La Salle and our voices were back. Despite our lead though, the La Salle side had their spirits all throughout the game. If that game that was based on school spirit, La Salle would’ve definitely won. But that wasn’t the game, and Ateneo was winning.
Before the game, I thought was just going to be a mere watcher. But after the game, I realized two things: I love basketball and I am an Atenean, a Blue Eagle. I felt proud that I was a part of that moment, when the Blue Eagles took on the Green Archers with all their hearts, as I was rooting for them with mine. But it wasn’t just me. The whole audience felt that way. Our spirits and pride were fuelled by the greatness of the players, and our voices fuelled theirs. That was what everyone came there for, to experience each other’s greatness and support.