Part 2: The 2K Decade Recap – 2001
Despite their obvious deficiencies in height and depth, the Archers surprised everybody by nailing their third straight men’s basketball championship in 2000, thanks largely to the superb leadership of seniors Mon Jose, Ronald Cuan and Alvin Castro. With the three gone entering Season 64, the team’s fate rested in the hands of Ren Ren Ritualo as he led a rookie-laden group for another run at the title in his final year.
Of the many new faces in the team, there was one who certainly stood out from the rest all season. With his rather-awkward and unorthodox offensive moves, the previously unknown Mac Mac Cardona was certainly the biggest surprise of the year. He wasn’t spared from controversy though as his eligibility was investigated by the board even after the period for questioning player eligibility had lapsed. Eventually, Cardona was cleared to play.
Just like previous year, the Green Archers cruised through the eliminations to finish at 12-2. They easily disposed of the surprising Bulldogs of NU in the Final 4 thus arranging a “dream showdown” with rival Ateneo in the Finals. Prior to this one, the last time these schools clashed for the title was in 1988 which was won by the Blue Eagles. This showdown was extra-sweet for the Archers as this was an opportunity to get some pay back at the same time winning their 4-peat at their rival’s expense.
And they just did that. The Archers won this classic showdown 2-1 for its fourth straight championship. Coach Franz Pumaren described this season as a ‘stormy’ one compared to other seasons. Despite handling a team filled with rookies and with only a few veterans, it was amazing how he managed to bring out the best in each of his players en route to this championship.
Mark Cardona was bestowed the Rookie of the Year Award while Ren Ren Ritualo, playing in his final year in the UAAP, bagged the Most Valuable Player of the Finals award.
This thus capped a brilliant collegiate career for Ritualo as his outstanding contributions in all of his playing years with the Archers led to his jersey number being retired the following year.
Ren Ren Ritualo
Adonis Sta Maria
Mac Mac Cardona