Who has the better 5-peat starting 5: Ateneo or San Beda?

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The past decade gave us two of the greatest dynasties in all of Philippine collegiate basketball’s history – the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles’ UAAP five-peat from 2008 to 2012 and the San Beda Red Lions’ NCAA five-peat from 2010 to 2014.

Both teams showed dominance in their own way, but which school would actually win in a head-to-head match-up of these two great dynasties?

While we will never actually get to see them battle on court, we can at least use our imaginations to conjure up this dream match-up. So, if we get the best of the best from these dynasties, which team would (hypothetically) reign supreme?

Point Guard: Kiefer Ravena vs. Baser Amer

Even if Kiefer Ravena played mostly as a shooting guard while with the Blue Eagles, he was still tasked to be the main creator and facilitator of the team – tasks that are normally give to a point guard.

Ravena even led the UAAP in assists for two straight seasons. Now a point guard for both NLEX and Gilas — though a lot can change in 18 months (Too soon? Sorry), Kiefer will match-up with his NCAA counterpart and good friend, Baser Amer, a competitor from as early as their high school days.

This match-up is closer than it initially seems, with Amer being a better natural facilitator and a peskier defender than Ravena. But Kiefer is no slouch in either of those departments – you can even call him underrated as a passer and defender – and is a way bigger threat as a scorer than Amer can ever dream of. The Phenom also has the advantage in height and athleticism.

Advantage: Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles

Shooting Guard: Chris Tiu vs. Garvo Lanete

The match-up at the shooting guard position features two snipers known for their scoring exploits and clutch performances. Both players also served the Gilas program full-time after their collegiate stint prior their PBA careers.

Lanete was one of the players who stepped up the most in the absence of Sudan Daniel due to injury in NCAA Season 87 en route to a Mythical Five selection. He wasn’t just a shooter, but a pure scorer.

Tiu, on the other hand, was just a designated shooter during his earlier UAAP days, but eventually developed into a versatile playmaker in his last two season, earning him two Mythical Five selections in that span. He was also recognized as one of the smartest players on (and off) the court who always knew the right play in every situation.

Garvo Lanete was a deadly weapon — an essential feat the favored the Red Lions’s success. Chris Tiu, however, was the heart and soul of the Blue Eagles teams he helped lead to championships.

Advantage: Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles

Small Forward: Nico Salva vs Art Dela Cruz

Nico Salva and Art Dela Cruz were once teammates in Ateneo, but Dela Cruz departed for the Red Lions’ den after just one season in the Blue Eagles’ nest. Both actually played a lot of minutes as power forwards, but their versatility allowed them to play as a 3 as well.

Salva was the perfect complimentary player for Ateneo’s bigger stars. He was also unafraid to step up in big games, which led to him winning back-to-back Finals MVPs for the last two titles of Ateneo’s five-peat.

Dela Cruz also served as a super role player in his first few years with the Red Lions, but eventually became one of their main go-to options. A son of former PBA player, Dela Cruz developed an all-around game on both ends of the court which made him a match-up nightmare for opposing teams. He also won the Finals MVP for San Beda’s 5th straight championship.

Advantage: San Beda Red Lions

Power Forward: Noy Baclao vs. Dave Marcelo

For all the attention that prolific scorers and talented offensive players get, neither of these historic dynasties would have happened if it weren’t for the defense of these two players. Defense wins championships, after all.

Baclao and Marcelo were both Ateneo and San Beda’s defensive specialists who stepped up big time when they were needed by their teams.

Baclao won the Finals MVP for the first title in Ateneo’s five-peat, while Marcelo won the award in San Beda’s second year run, when their import and the previous season’s MVP Sudan Daniels missed the entire season due to an ACL injury.

This was the hardest call among all match-ups, but Baclao just barely edges out Dave Marcelo here because he was arguably a more important member of the Blue Eagles than Marcelo was for the Red Lions.

Both players are remembered as invaluable members to their teams, but Baclao displayed just a tad more versatility

Advantage: Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles

Center: Rabeh Al-Hussaini vs. Sudan Daniels

Al-Hussaini and Daniels were their respective schools’ MVPs for their initial title runs – they both basically kickstarted the two dynasties. Without their contributions, we might not even be having this topic to talk about at all.

Rabeh was a surprise UAAP MVP, going from seldom-used bench guy to a real “Rabeh-lation” that took over games with a dynamic offensive repertoire. He was also a Mythical Five selection and the Finals MVP for the Blue Eagles’ second title.

Sudan Daniel, on the other hand, was a foreign student-athlete import who was recruited precisely to dominate in the NCAA – and dominate he did.

Daniel mixed unmatched athleticism with tremendous heart and hustle on his way to the season MVP and Finals MVP for San Beda’s first of five straight championships. Even if an ACL injury put a premature end to his playing career, Daniel’s impact on the Red Lions program won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Fortunately for the former Red Lion, we are only considering the best versions of these players for this discussion. Despite a longer college career and more awards, a healthy Sudan Daniel’s athleticism, activity, and defense may overwhelm Al-Hussaini. It is a level of combination of traits that the Fil-Kuwaiti never got to face during his time in the UAAP.

Advantage: San Beda Red Lions

There you have it.

The Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles win the head-to-head match-ups 3-2. Though they may have won this hypothetical match-up between the two dynasties, it doesn’t mean that they had the better teams or basketball program.

This was just a fun exercise involving the five best players from each school during their title runs. The San Bed Red Lions have won 10 of the last 12 NCAA titles after all, while Ateneo has only won one since their own five-peat.

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