Through the years, the Green Archers have made the UAAP Final 4 their personal playground. Including this year, La Salle has been in the semis 15 times since the format was formally introduced in 1994. It was only last year that the team failed to qualify as they finished in 6th place.
The team also holds the record for the longest consecutive Final 4 streak of 14. The Green Archers have the highest winning percentage in the semis with a 13-1 record. They are 12-0 when they had the twice-to-beat advantage and 1-1 when they did not.
This season, the team is in a situation of not having the twice-to-beat edge for only the third time. Let us look back at those two seasons wherein the Green Archers found themselves with their backs against the wall in the Final 4.
1997 – DLSU (3) vs UST (2)
The Green Archers had every reason to be anxious heading into their Final 4 match-up with the grand slam champion UST Growling Tigers. For one, UST had the twice to beat advantage and of course, the stigma of losing to them in the finals for 3 consecutive years still haunted the team.
Determined not to suffer the same fate as in the previous seasons, La Salle trounced the Tigers 82-73 to force a winner-take-all. The Green Archers eventually dethroned the Tigers as they escaped with a 74-72 victory in the rubber match.
Though they in the end lost to FEU in the finals, that season will always be remembered as the year the Archers finally ended the Tigers’ 4-year reign.
2003 – DLSU (4) vs ADMU (1)
Barely making in the Final 4, the rookie-laden Green Archers appeared to have no chance of getting past through defending champion Ateneo, to whom they lost to twice in the eliminations. But then again when these two teams go head-on, past records and ranking are usually irrelevant.
The Green Archers scored a 76-72 win in the first game before finally yielding to the Blue Eagles 68-74 in the deciding match. This series was very physical with high emotions from both teams. Things got even uglier when the fans got into the fray. Though they lost, La Salle proved that even with a rebuilding roster, they can still contend.
The Eagles, they were eventually outclassed by the Tams in the finals. They were probably exhausted after being pushed to the limit by the Archers.
2010 – DLSU (4) vs FEU (1)
The Archers appear to be in the same situation as they were in 2003, placing 4th and going up against the top ranked team, this time the Tamaraws. In the first round, the rookie-laden Archers pushed FEU to the limit before yielding in double overtime. However, in the second round, we dealt the Tams their worst defeat in the tournament, a 14-point beating that proved that the Archers cannot be discounted even with a very young roster.
We are coming off two losses to UE and Adamson, while FEU came from behind to edge Ateneo in the battle for the top position. But when the game kicks off on Thursday, expect the Green Archers to fight tooth and nail to force a sudden death playoff. As they proved in our first 2 games, our team can compete effectively with the taller and more experienced Tams, and win.
Hopefully we will improve our record in this situation [where we don’t have a twice to beat advantage] to 2-1. So let’s go to Araneta on Thursday and cheer on our team as they play for the glory and honor of La Salle!