The Golden Quintet: when League played the Harlem Globetrotters

Basketball has a legendary chapter in the history of Liga Deportiva Universitaria. Yes, in the 50s and 60s of the last century there were heart attack games, tours and triumphs.

Liga Deportiva Universitaria is a name that cannot be separated from the word football, but in 1952 Liga reached the first title of Pichincha with the remembered ‘White Ballet’.

A basketball team formed by mythical figures, What Rodolfo Arroyo, Jorge Ribadeneira, Santiago Oleas, Marcelo ‘Chiquitón’ Holguín and Gonzalo ‘Patallucha’ Cevallos.

Until they had the luxury of rolling Mercantil’s hegemony to the ground, that for a whole decade he was provincial basketball champion.

This season was wonderful for University Sports League, as it turns out that the football team also got the championship in Pichincha.

“The last title that the League had won in football was in 1932, when he beat Gladiator 4-0. Since then, teams made up of university students, with several enthusiastic young people from the province in their ranks, have not made it to the finals.

‘Welcome to Ecuador’

“That 1952 we both teams won, it was a great year,” recalled Jorge Ribadeneira in 2014., who also possessed a brilliant journalist’s pen and an effective technique for basketball mid-range shots.

For something the unforgettable ‘Jorgito’ Ribadeneira was part of the ‘White Ballet’.

With that prestigious and award-winning team, LDU faced the legendary Harlem Globetrotters, on the Plaza Arenas court, a setting where the first basketball games were played in Quito.

And not only that, on August 13, 1953, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Julio César Hidalgo Coliseum, League beat the famous Yale University (United States), by 42-38.

The fans packed the stage rooms to the brim and applauded the skill of a team that he overwhelmed his rival without shyness.

Five gold

It was in 1956 when Liga reached the top with the inclusion of Oswaldo Arroyo and Rodrigo Burbano, who together with Holguín, ‘Patallucha’ Cevallos and Santiago Oleaas were part of the unforgettable ‘Golden Quintet‘.

It should be noted here that the coach of these gladiators was Raúl Vaca, who later was president of the club 12 times.

They had no rival, at least in Quito. They played interprovincial and international matches, including the South American Champions tournament in 1958, with the presence of the champions of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Paraguay and Chile.

With that team that never ‘wrinkled’, Liga attended the World University Olympiad in Budapest.

“We left in third class on the Américo Vespucio ship between Puná Island (Guayas) and Naples (Italy). We paid 4,300 sucres for the one-way ticket, they told us that there they would give us the money to return in first class, but no one showed up, so we also returned in third class ”.

Words from ‘Chiquitón’ Holguín, who as a child nothing because he was at least two meters tall.

We left in third class on the Américo Vespucio ship between Puná Island (Guayas) and Naples (Italy).

The ‘Chiquitón’ Holguín.

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Jorge Ribadeneira, ‘Jorgito’ or ‘Soflaquito’ He was a sporting and intellectual character from Ecuador.

Although he was born in Guaranda, he was a Quiteño at heart. In the book ‘Con Pelé, Rolando y Fidel’ he published the chronicles of that trip to Budapest that lasted 26 days.

By W in Budapest

“It was a historic participation for Liga and for Ecuador. We traveled 30 days by boat from Puná Island to Naples, we passed through the Panama Canal, La Guaira, Curaçao, Tenerife, Lisbon. From there we went by land to Budapest ”, ralata Ribadeneira.

“One day after we arrived we went to train. We meet the players of Denmark, what were they our first rivals. They weren’t that good, we were sure we beat them, but they did not show up for the game. “

The next day, Czechoslovakia defeated Liga 100-55. Later he faced teams from the universities of Israel, Lebanon, China and the Soviet Union.

The Ecuadorian team qualified for the next phase in which they beat Egypt and finally placed seventh among the eight teams that entered the second round.

The game against the Soviet Union (today Russia) left another anecdote. Liga started winning 2-0 with a basket of ‘Patallucha’ Cevallos. The ‘Chiquitón’ Holguín went to where the coach Lucho Armas was to ask for a technical minute of rest.

Then something unusual happened for those who came to the colosseum. “The five Ecuadorians went to the bottom of the scoreboard. There you could read, URRS 0 – Equateur 2. Nicanor Fabara’s tiny camera worked and he tried to capture the photo to remember when we beat the Russians in Budapest ”, Jorge Ribadeneira recounted.

The scene was repeated when the scoreboard indicated 4-2. Then there were no partial victories for the ‘albos’, as the Russians took control of the actions until they achieved a resounding victory from 62 to 41.

Liga also suffered a setback against Bulgaria 85-69, but they beat Israel, 72-69, and fell to China in the defining match for fifth place, 95-65.

12 games in the United States

With the ‘Golden Quintet’, in January 1959, Liga Deportiva Universitaria went to the United States to play 12 games in 45 days thanks to a university exchange program.

Francisco Saá Chacón chaired the delegation, and with him traveled Gonzalo Cevallos, Marcelo Holguín, Santiago Oleas, Oswaldo Arroyo, Rodrigo Ribadeneira, Rodrigo Burbano, Efraín López, Ramiro Escalante, Arturo Buenaventura, Rodrigo Araque, Ángel Lonfrucio and René Ampudia, under the technical direction of Marcelo Ribadeneira.

On January 9, 1959, in Miami, LDU beat Jacksonville University 63-53. The next day beat YMCA, 75-63. In Washington beat Roosevelt College by 65 to 41.

New Jersey All Stars they also fell to the ‘albo’ team by 61-59.

There was a decade of golden victories for Liga Deportiva Universitaria in national and international basketball.

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According to the report by journalist Jaime Naranjo, on January 20, in Worcester, Massachusetts, Asumption College beat LDU, in overtime, by 67 to 64. Two days later, Worcester College triumphed over the ‘U’ by 74 to 73.

Later, Oswaldo Arroyo achieved the winning basket over the Livingston National Team. The tour was closed after playing in Niagara Falls, Cincinnati, Baton Rouge and Miami.

Thus was written a decade of golden victories of Liga Deportiva Universitaria in national and international basketball.

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The Golden Quintet: when League played the Harlem Globetrotters