In order to determine who among the last two contenders would be crowned champion, we set up a few guidelines on how the finalists were chosen:

  1. Each writer makes their pick from their respective regions
  2. They then give their honest assessment of who they think would win the matchup that includes the player from their region
  3. The writers give a prospective final score which is averaged with the score given by their counterpart to determine which player will advance
  4. In case of a tie, the editorial board decides who goes onto the Finals.

The Case for Thirdy 

Kyle Reiner Pineda

It’s only fitting we end King of the Hill with a Katipunan finale between Thirdy Ravena and Dave Ildefonso.

This is a match-up that’s filled with plenty of history. The talented wings both come from the decorated Ateneo Blue Eaglets program, and as a result, they’ve been linked with one another for years. After Thirdy, came Dave. But as polished as Dave has become, he’s continued play catch up against Ravena. In multiple encounters, Thirdy has outplayed Dave in dominant fashion. That will likely continue to be the case.

Both players are quite polished but there is a reason why Ravena is a three-time Finals MVP. Whatever height and length he lacks against Dave, he makes up for with brute strength. But sheer power isn’t the only reason Thirdy will likely win this bout. His value begins with his experience.

The King Eagle’s wisdom, which he gained playing internationally and in years in college, will come into play here. Ildefonso will definitely make a run for the title with his craftiness around the rim and his creativity on offense. But Thirdy will counter with his lockdown defense anchored by his underrated basketball IQ and championship experience. Dave is quite the talent, but there’s a reason why the three-time Finals MVP is called King T. 

Kyle’s pick: Thirdy Ravena def. Dave Ildefonso, 21-17

While I do think the two are close in terms of pure talent and polished skills, this game will come down to who can find a way to win in the final. Ravena has the ability to breakdown an opponent from in and out of the paint while having key baskets along the way to break Illdefonso’s momentum. The old guard will show the new guard of Ateneo who is still king by producing an offensive and defensive masterclass, something we’ve always expected out of the Ateneo legend.

The Case for Dave

Ged Austria 

Dave and Thirdy are almost essentially the same in terms of their characteristics and attributes, skills, and abilities on the floor. The only striking difference is, Thirdy is an established and seasoned vet in the UAAP while Dave is an up and coming superstar given his talent and ability. 

Physically, Thirdy and Dave are identical to one another. Dave is only an inch taller than Thirdy, which barely makes a difference especially when you’re on the court already. While Thirdy’s a freak of nature with his athleticism, strength, speed, and quickness, Dave is no slouch. He’s put on a considerable amount of muscle over the course of his UAAP career and it’s translated into production. 

Skills-wise, both have different strengths and advantages. Both players are essentially bucket getters and can bust out their own moves to create a scoring opportunity. They can open their bag of tricks in an instant, a rarity even at the collegiate level. 

The difference, however, lies with how they approach their attack. Thirdy uses limited moves since he’s quick enough to blow by you. The scouting report may say you’d rather let him shoot, but in a one on one setting, it’s tougher to guard him. There’s no help defense or zone to act as a fail-safe. You simply have to pick your poison.

Dave, on the other hand, is a lot more polished even though he’s the younger player. He’s crafty around the rim and his footwork looks like it came out of the Mamba Sports Academy. This is going to be his advantage against Thirdy. He’s arguably the best offensive player in the UAAP today and in a one-on-one setting, he can match-up against anyone, even someone as decorated as Thirdy. 

Ged’s pick: Thirdy Ravena def. Dave Ildefonso, 21-19

This is a tough match-up, but if it were to happen in real life, it would be a treat to watch. If this was a seven-game series, I’d have the series going to a Game 7. For this match-up, in a winner takes all setting, I’d give the win to Thirdy, simply because he’s the better overall player. As talented and skilled as Dave is, Thirdy’s blend of skill, intellect, and athleticism will prove to be too much.

FINAL: Thirdy Ravena def. Dave Ildefonso, 21-18