Schonny Winston, DLSU Green Archers, UAAP
DLSU Green Archers guard #7 Schonny Winston fires a three in their first round meeting with eternal rival Ateneo Blue Eagles in UAAP Season 85. Karl Batungbacal


  • The local basketball scene is keen on seeing who comes out on top of UAAP Season 85
  • Students and alumni cheering for their respective alma mater is part of the experience
  • The UP Fighting Maroons are still the favorites to repeat

For an archipelagic country like the Philippines, their love for college basketball arguably surpasses that of its professional counterpart.

Despite having a growing affinity for football and their long history with combat sports, Filipinos still gravitate towards basketball and the start of the 85th season of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) is set to bring back school spirit.

With a number of sports ranging from volleyball to judo and cheerdance, collegiate basketball is still the undisputed king of them all as supporters of the eight schools involved are treated to a double round robin, which has a total of 114 games in the elimination round alone.

After including the playoffs between the top four teams, better known as the Final Four, fans can witness a maximum of 121 games–if the bottom two seeds force a do-or-die situation against the twice-to-beat advantage of the top two teams and the finals extend to game three.

The schools competing in the UAAP men's collegiate basketball tournament are as follows:

  • Adamson University (AdU) Soaring Falcons
  • Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles
  • De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers
  • Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws
  • National University (NU) Bulldogs
  • University of the East (UE) Red Warriors
  • University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons
  • University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers

The UP Fighting Maroons find themselves atop the UAAP basketball scene after ending their 35-year long championship drought in Season 84 which also featured them ending the 36-game winning streak of the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the closing game of the eliminations.

As for the Blue Eagles, they face Season 85 with a ton of uncertainty ahead of them after capturing eight championships since 2000–the only team to win five straight titles since the UE Red Warriors did it en route to a league record of seven championship victories in the late 60s.

Part of the appeal of being a UAAP fan, and arguably its biggest, is the school spirit that it invokes among the students and personnel affiliated with their respective universities similar to the US NCAA during March Madness.

Both the UP Fighting Maroons and UST Growling Tigers' fanbases are considered among the loudest in the league thanks to a big student population that dwarfs that of other universities, which helps them fill up nearly three-fourths of the venue if given the opportunity to do so.

Whether UST is behind or ahead on the scoreboard, fans watching from home and the opposing crowd in attendance always get to hear the intimidating cheers of "Go USTe" as yellow shirts and balloons wave around the arena.

UP fans chanting their alma mater's name in Filipino produces that same effect in-game and helped carry them through the dark ages who celebrated the end of a 27-game losing streak by lighting a bonfire to becoming champions in eight years.

In terms of rivalries, games between the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the De La Salle Green Archers are usually the most hotly contested matchups in the UAAP thanks to their history that dates back to the late 1980s.

The two universities, co-founders of the NCAA, decided then to switch allegiances to the UAAP with ADMU making the move in 1978 and DLSU following two years later.

The Green Archers were proving to be the more dominant team after winning four straight titles from Season 61 to Season 64 and were en route to a fifth before the third-seeded Blue Eagles ended their hopes in the finals of Season 65.

DLSU would only win two more titles in Seasons 76 and 79 since then, while ADMU produced nine championships to get ahead of their rivals in the total tally of men's basketball championships.

Currently, Season 85 of the men's basketball tournament is in the middle of the first leg of the round robin and the Fighting Maroons are still the favorites to win the title since they retained their championship core featuring Season 84 Rookie of the Year Carl Tamayo, Finals MVP Malick Diouf and Mythical Five member Zavier Lucero.

With a total of eight games a week waiting for the fans until early December and drums banging inside the venue, the Philippines' premier collegiate basketball scene is on track to produce another exciting season.

JD Cagulangan, UP Fighting Maroons, UAAP
UP Fighting Maroons shooting guard #13 JD Cagulangan delivered big in crunch time of Game 3 to dethrone the Ateneo Blue Eagles for the UAAP Men's Basketball Championship in Season 84. UAAP Media Bureau