If you go down, you want to go down fighting.

So the Final Four is a miracle away for us. So we dug ourselves a third quarter hole a 19-2 run couldn’t get us out of. So we look like punks again. So what?

I have stated again and again that what matters in the following games is not the win or loss, but the attitudes our players carried – during and out of the game. They carried a good attitude to start the game, they led half way through the first quarter until they got stuck at 13 points and Ateneo eventually took the game over. They kept the game close until halftime but let go of it at the third. They carried a good attitude toward the end of the game and started the fourth quarter on a rampage that had the Ateneo crowd worried. Eventually, Ateneo’s fast-paced offense took its toll on the Falcons and they just couldn’t keep up, but what was clear was that the Falcons wanted to play, the Falcons were willing to listen to their coach, the Falcons want to be contenders.

Review of the Keys to the Game

Get your act together

They did pretty well for the most part. In the first half when they were still contending, their offense was loose enough that they trailed by only a single digit at the half despite top scorer Jericho Cruz not making a single basket.

In the third quarter which the Falcons lost horribly 24-6, they showed somewhat the proper way to lose. Despite scoring just a single field goal the entire quarter, the Falcons continued to force the issue in the paint. This resulted to ten trips to the line for them, though they only capitalized on four of them. Ateneo was able to score 24 because of their running game, as well as the fact that three of their seven long bombs went in.

This meant, Adamson, despite finding nothing going for them on offense, stuck to their game plan, forced the ball inside to Ingrid Sewa, who managed to get fouled again and again, but couldn’t capitalize on the free throws. Unlike in the NU game, the attempts came from inside. If you look at the free throw numbers of the Falcons’ best inside guy, you can see that Sewa had more touches and more attempts at the basket.

Opponent Points Freethrow attempts
Vs. NU: 4th quarter 1 2
Vs. Ateneo: 3rd quarter 3 6

It shows how willing they were to trust in their teammates and trust the system, trying to get the best shot possible even if it means themselves not scoring.

Their faith in the system paid off early in the fourth. Not only did they force Ateneo to commit four turnovers from which they got five points, their field goal percentage skyrocketed as they continued to stay away from long bombs. Only a single attempt was thrown up from long range in the closing quarter, the urgency that people wanted to see from them came in the form of 3 of 5 field goal shooting from Rodney Brondial who started challenging the Ateneo big men in the paint on offense. Sewa went to town in the paint as the Falcons continued to lob pass after pass to him, resulting in him going perfect from the field. Cruz went on hero mode after being held scoreless in the first three quarters, doing everything on the floor. He shot 3 of 7 from the floor, a remarkable 7 of 8 from the free throw line, all while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists.

The only problem for the Falcons in that fourth quarter was that Ateneo buried them in too deep a hole. The 19-2 run in the opening minutes which cut a 25-point lead to 8 at one point was readily held off by poised play from Ateneo.

Ravena continued to have his way on offense, making 75% of all his shots in the fourth. Tiongson, Golla and Newsome also chipped in while Buenafe, ever the throat slasher, hit a crucial three pointer that marked the Falcons’ fate for good.

Take away the phenomenomenomenomenomenomenomenom…

Ravena tore the Falcons defense apart. He scored 18 points on 6 of 10 shooting from the field. He went to the line eight times and made five of them count. With teammates like Buenafe who had an appalling 4 of 14 2pt FG but a wonderful 3 of 6 from beyond the arc, it’s really hard for the Falcons to concentrate on locking Ravena up. Credit Ateneo’s efficient transition offense and the fact that Ravena is among the best at finishing at the break, Adamson just couldn’t keep up.

Douse the fire

Nope, Ateneo made their runs and Adamson couldn’t answer back… again. Ateneo ran and ran and ran leading to 22 fastbreak points while the Falcons only had eight. The Falcons could only hope to set up their offense at the halfcourt setting which became more prone to defensive stops from Ateneo, but it also resulted in a lot more fouls.

Stay away from the line!
Ingrid Sewa was such a big inside presence, two of Ateneo's big-men fouled out trying to guard him (Photo Credit: John Dhale S. Flores, The Adamson Chronicle)

Ingrid Sewa was such a big inside presence, two of Ateneo’s big-men fouled out trying to guard him (Photo Credit: John Dhale S. Flores, The Adamson Chronicle)

They finally started making freethrows (hallelujah!). Sans Ingrid Sewa, everyone who was sent to the line made at least 50% of their shots, with Jericho Cruz making one of his steadiest performances from the stripe, hitting 8 of 10 shots from the free throw line (hurray!). Sewa made a workable 5 of 12 shots from the stripe but in the process fouled out two of Ateneo’s big men, Ivan Enriquez and JP Erram. If anything, going to the line this game was a very good thing especially in the third when they couldn’t find anything on the floor.

Play with pride

So the Ateneo fans behind me continued to cuss the hell out of the Adamson team. They still have to admit, from 9:05 to 2:28 in the fourth quarter, they were worried; they were scared.

Even if the Falcons were down by 25 points at the end of the third quarter, they started pounding at the champions. Ateneo thought they could use the time to teach their rookies, the Falcons had other plans. They forced Ateneo to turnover after turnover and bad shot after bad shot, allowing them to cut the lead to ten. Ateneo’s Coach Bo had to burn a timeout to stop the bleeding, but Adamson still kept coming and traded baskets with them. The breaking point came after Buenafe hit a three to extend the lead to 13 with a little more than two minutes left in the game, but the damage had been done. What should have been a 25-point blow out turned into a ballgame which forced Ateneo to keep their starters on the floor longer than they would have wanted to.

Falcons Cruz goes up for a contested layup (Photo Credit: John Dhale S. Flores, The Adamson Chronicle)

Falcons’ Cruz goes up for a contested layup (Photo Credit: John Dhale S. Flores, The Adamson Chronicle)

Final Thoughts

With this loss, our final four outlook looks grim. It will take a perfect four-game run and a miracle on the standings to get into the Final Four. After this game, the four-game run is very possible. They know how to claw out of holes, they know how to fight back.

Priority is sweeping the next four games, it’s possible. Then and only then can they worry about a miracle.