San Beda Red Lions: a winning tradition for 97 seasons

Published on March 17, 2022 at 7:18 p.m.

Updated on March 17, 2022 at 7:18 p.m.

Winning has long been a tradition for the University of San Beda athletic program.

From legends like Caloy Lozaga to the current crop of Filipino basketball stars like Robert Bolick, San Beda University (SBU, formerly San Beda College or SBC) etched its name in the history books as the one of the strongest sports teams in the country. .

In recent years, the Mendiola-based team has dominated the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and won seven overall championships in the senior division in nine seasons from 2010 to 2019.

In men’s basketball alone, the Red Lions won the NCAA season title 86-90 and seasons 92-94 and reached the Finals 14 times in a row.

This tradition of excellence in the red and white team dates back to 1924 when San Beda joined the founding group of the NCAA, along with Ateneo de Manila, De La Salle College, Institute of Accounts (which became the University of Extreme East), National University, University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas and University of Manila.

The lion’s den

Even in the early years of the NCAA, San Beda was already winning championships, and it was evident in their basketball history.

According to the school’s website, the Red Lions won their first basketball trophy in 1927, just three seasons after the league was founded. San Beda also won three consecutive titles from 1934 to 1936. This would eventually become the seeds of San Beda’s dominance and streaks in senior men’s basketball titles.

San Beda’s college basketball program has produced some of the biggest names in Philippine basketball, from Caloy Loyzaga, Abe King, Frankie Lim, to the current generation of professional players such as Bolick, Baser Amer and Javee Mocon.

Along with the senior program, the junior program has produced many of the nation’s greatest collegiate, professional, and national players. It was the training ground for players who would eventually be recruited by other schools and would also become future stars.

The Red Cubs have seen the talents of youngsters Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano, Dindo Pumaren, Ren-Ren Ritualo, LA Tenorio, Jvee Casio, Arvin Tolentino and Andrei Caracut to name a few in their ranks. Credit must also be given to the coaches of the legendary junior program, and in particular legendary coach Ato Badolato.

Rivalries on hard ground

Contemporary sports fans may be familiar with San Beda’s rivalry with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. Cheers from Animo San Beda and Arriba Letran echo through the hall as the two teams meet on the hard court.

In recent years, it was Letran who broke the hearts of San Beda fans when they turned down the Mendiola-based men’s basketball team in 2015 and 2019. Loyzaga who would face off on the hard court against fellow legendary Lauro Mumar.

San Beda also had a rivalry with San Sebastian College-Recoletos from the late 2000s to early 2010s when the two teams played each other for three consecutive years (2009-2011) in the basketball finals of the NCAA.

(Photo: Zeke Alonzo)

Series and milestones

But it’s not all basketball dominance for the Red Lions.

Besides basketball, San Beda swimmers also dominate the scene. As early as the 1930s, they won the Philippine Islands Swimming Association championships. From the early 2000s to now, the San Beda men’s team has won 18 straight senior men’s titles and nine straight in women’s since the 2011-12 school year.

San Beda also holds 24 men’s soccer titles, with their victories as early as 1927, 1928, and 1930. However, the majority of their titles came just around the turn of the millennium. They have won 15 senior titles over the past 18 seasons and two consecutive titles in the junior division since the 2012-13 school year.

Its taekwondo teams have also topped the NCAA with its men’s and women’s teams winning ten titles from 2010 to 2019, and table tennis teams winning 15 titles from 2008 to 2019 from their men’s, women’s and junior teams.

For a reputable institution like San Beda, these examples from their long tradition are proof that the Red Lions are truly kings in Filipino collegiate sports.

—JMB, GMA News

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