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Ateneo – La Salle Basketball Rivalry on the New York Times

Raphael Bartholomew writes a piece on Philippine basketball culture for the New York Times. He talks about the rivalry between Ateneo and La Salle, the culture of college basketball, game fixing, and the obtuse difference between the players of each school:

Although Ateneo and La Salle have similar upper-class student bodies, their respective basketball teams are very different.

The Ateneo players have a squeaky-clean image. The team’s prize freshman, Kirk Long, came from Faith Academy, a high school in suburban Manila for the children of foreign missionaries. Guard Eric Salamat’s surname means thank you in Tagalog.

La Salle’s players have a menacing swagger, with tattoos, headbands, shaved heads and chin-strap beards. In 2005, La Salle revealed that two of its players had used phony high school equivalency results in their applications, and the team was suspended for the 2006 season. [Read]

So what do you think? Is this article accurate? I’m from neither school so I can’t really say anything. 🙂 The part about the tattoos and squeaky clean image are a bit blunt though.

Bartholomew is a lecturer at the Ateneo.

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

9 replies on “Ateneo – La Salle Basketball Rivalry on the New York Times”

Written by an Atenean? Biased!!!! 😛

La Salle team isn’t THAT ghetto! *pfft*

Well, I wouldn’t really know since I’m not familiar with the players of the DLSU team now, haha!

But at our time, like 4-5 years ago, I don’t remember the players looking all ghetto and scary with tattoos and shaved heads.


He could be biased, but based on what he said, there isn’t anything that’s actually false. As they say, La Salle recruits basketball players to study while Ateneo recruits students to play 🙂

agree with lia. my brother’s from la salle, it’s a bit funny for me to see their rivalry with ateneo. I’m from UP, and i don’t feel a thing for the 12 losses-0 wins status. haha.

As a sign of solidarity, the DLSU team and coaching staff shaved their heads after losing 2 straight games… So I don’t think its a regular haircut regimen for them. C/F PJ Walsham seems to be the only player on the DLSU team with an armful of tatoo’s…

The article sounds biased, but I think I am too because I come from DLSU *snicker*

As a second generation Atenean (who is just as proud of being a longtime lecturer in UA&P), I would like to congratulate all those who have made comments on this entry. Classy, with just the right amount of cheek to make things interesting.

The article is studiedly fair, and I mean that in the kindest possible way. I suspect that in the author’s attempt to avoid igniting any controversy one way or the other that he wasn’t able to explore some of the more interesting aspects of the so-called rivalry. That being said, it was still a good read. I just wish that it was more cheeky. Maybe bloggers should have assisted him in writing it. 🙂

I wrote the article, so here’s my side of things. 1)Remember that I don’t have the final say in how the article turns out. A couple phrases get tweaked in the editing process and all of a sudden the meaning, or implication, is slightly different as well. This happened with my description of La Salle players. I originally wrote something along the lines of “La Salle players have the accoutrements — tattoos, headbands, chin-strap beards — that tend to signify basketball toughness.” Someone described the way it was rewritten as “blunt,” and I’d agree with that. Also, I was describing the teams over the past decade, and thinking of guys like Cardona, Cortez, Sharma, and so on, all of whom had some combination of bald head, tats, headbands and/or facial hair in their La Salle Days. On the Blue Eagle side, when I said squeaky clean, I had guys like Fonacier, Jec Chia and LA Tenorio in mind, as well.

2) I don’t consider myself, nor this article to be biased. I’m not really a fan of either team, or even UAAP basketball in general. I would agree that sources for the article were weighted somewhat to the Ateneo side. Ideally, I would have had equal access to both teams and institutions. I called and E-mailed officials and offices on both sides, but by the time I reached my deadline, more people at Ateneo had made time to sit down and talk with me. And I didn’t identify myself as a former Fulbright scholar based at Ateneo, merely as a freelance writer working for The Times. I had interviews with Mike Cortez and Alvin Castro, but they weren’t very quotable. What can I say, the show must go on, and both sides of the story were represented.

3) Finally, I agree with John-D Borra that there’s a lot of room to poke fun at the overhyped atmosphere behind the rivalry, but the New York Times isn’t the place for it. I had a few lines that made me chuckle in there, and my editors chopped them out with the quickness. The Times considers itself the “newspaper of record” in the United States, and there’s really no room for glibness in the paper’s voice.

I must say, I’m pretty flattered that people haven’t torn me a new one here or on message boards like Pinoy Exchange. It’s a great rivalry and I hope I did it justice.

rafe, im actually more interested that the NY Times took an interest in our local basketball scene. care to give us your insights on this? 🙂 thanks for your reply though!

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