Every nook and cranny of the place was filled with blue and green. As we saw the big crowd of people at the gates of the coliseum, all we could think of then was how we will find our way inside the arena without getting ourselves stuck in the congested sea of people. As more Ateneans and La Sallians continued to flock to the Big Dome, we had no choice but to let go of all hope of getting in the dome early before the game starts. We were left with no option but to wait for the sea of people to subside which took us an hour. As expected from an Ateneo-La Salle basketball game, tons of students, teachers, and alumni were brought in the house just to witness a match that would conclude which was the stronger team between the two. For both schools, basketball matches with each other are must-be-watched games. It is a phenomenon that no student of either school could resist to watch live. More than being a basketball match, it is a school rivalry and culture that will and always be celebrated by the students.
The clock struck at 4pm and we realized that we have already had enough of waiting outside. As we were along the corridors of the dome, continuously searching for the right door that will lead us to the Ateneo side, we heard nothing but the intense beating of the drums and the crowd cheering inside. The volume of the cheers was so overwhelming that we can’t even hear our own voices anymore. As we entered the gate that led us to the Ateneo side, we felt a sudden urge in our own body that made us want to shout just like the rest of the crowd cheering for the Blue Eagles. GO ATENEO! ONE BIG FIGHT! As much as possible, we tried to not shout like there’s no tomorrow just like the girl that was standing in front of us. However, even if we chose not to be noticed with our cheers, we found ourselves mumbling and whispering the words GET THE BALL in almost every minute of the game. In uttering those words, we found ourselves not only being one in the cheering crowd but more importantly we were being one with the players to get the ball. Somehow when we cheered along with the crowd, we felt like we were able to make a connection with the players. In a school community, cheering has become a way of connecting each member together which serves as a common denominator that keeps the school strong and firm. Cheering became the blood of the Ateneo which reflects the solidarity of the team itself. It is a value that Ateneo will always need to surpass every match, especially when it’s with a rival.
Every after segment of a game, the court takes a break for a while the players move to the sides of the court either to rest or to strategize their game plan which leaves the court open. Nothing really happens when the court is open that’s why to keep the audience entertained, random videos are being played at the center screen of the arena. Most of these random videos that we have observed are commercials and promotions of concerts, grocery products, and other stuff for entertainment. While the audience holds huge and diverse demographics, global markets in the form of transnational and local corporations utilize these games or events as a venue for business promotion. Every second of the game is filled with advertisements, player’s jerseys have sponsors written all over it and commercials flashing on every time-out, even the highlight moves of players are branded by companies like Smart, Alaxan FR, and Rexona. These companies help project UAAP culture to the outside world. Jollibee, with their new take on coke floats that sport the colors red, blue, green, and yellow that represent each of the contending universities. And an Enervon commercial starring Kiefer Ravena of the Blue Eagles and Jeron Teng of the Green Archers. These types of media used by companies help UAAP men’s basketball gain its popularity all over our nation.
Another factor as to why the rivalry between both teams is so great is because both universities used to be exclusively for males. Each side’s masculinity is projected through this intense rivalry. Losing for both sides is not an option, because it will bring down honor and respect each team has created in the world of collegiate basketball.
Throughout the game there were cliffhanger moments when you don’t know if Ateneo or La Salle is gonna make the shot. What seems to be the tendency of the people is to overreact just to express their excitement over the game. Whenever Ravena does those sweet three point shots, people of different box areas in the Ateneo side react simultaneously as if they were in control of one body. It is amazing how a single basketball game is able to create a unified culture on each side, that is able to break the barrier created by the difference in social classes.
After the winner of the match was declared, we headed to the Gateway Mall and saw again the sea of Ateneans and La Sallians that was present before us earlier. Looking from a third person perspective at the students from the Big Dome, we can actually consider them as one classification of students if only we weren’t looking at color of their shirts. Judging their fashion, manner of speaking, attitude, and even their aura, Ateneans and La Sallians in general actually just share the same attributes. If you will look at it, there’s really no definite thing that defines an Atenean from a La Sallian in the outside world but the color of his shirt. We then remember joking around with each other that if Ateneo loses, we’re just gonna buy green t-shirts and walk in the mall as if we are La Sallians.
Rivalries fuel the passion of the supporters and increase the hype of the game. The Ateneo-La Salle rivalry is one of the oldest existing rivalries in the history of Philippine basketball. Watching an Ateneo-La Salle game is a one of a kind experience, it was filled with intense emotions. Every shot that went in or got blocked resulted in loud cheers or echoing boos. This helped build the rivalry between them, a rivalry would not exist if there wasn’t an equal chance of winning. Now that La Salle is getting back on their feet the future is set, the culture of the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry will continue to live on.
Photo by Anika Leongson.
– Jap Garcia and Mao Tan, SA 21 – G