Known as the “flex” team, not because of their use of flex action, but because of their tendency to flex their muscles after big plays, the Falcons did just that, flexing their new found confidence to play spoiler against a Final Four-seeking UE Red Warriors.
The third quarter turned the tides heavily in the favor of the Falcons as they shut down the Warriors for more than six minutes while pounding them on a frenzied offensive run of their own. UE didn’t score until the 3:38 mark of the third quarter while the Falcons bombarded them with 16 straight points to build a hefty 20-point lead.
While no lead is safe in the UAAP, 20 points with a little over 13 minutes of game to play would take a Herculean charge for any team to get back from, and that’s what UE did.
Turning up the pressure in the fourth, the Warriors turned to their time and tested Pumaren trap, chipping away at the Falcons’ lead, hoping to keep the flames of their Final Four bid burning brighter.
Six times the UE full court trap forced the Falcons to turn the ball over. More importantly, it stifled the ability of the Falcons to develop into their offensive sets. Here the Falcons turned to heroics from their guards and relied on the hustle and energy expected of the young team that they are.
O’l reliable Pape Sarr gave the Falcons just enough defensive presence to last them through the fourth quarter scoring drought as guards JD Tungcab and William Polican took over the scoring load. With UE sticking like glue, the Falcon star rookie Tungcab turned to what he knows to do best, taking his man off the dribble and going hard at the basket, resulting in multiple trips to the line.
As the Warriors pounded on the door to victory in the final two minutes, the Falcons shut them down and allowed a single field goal by Emil Palma, forcing UE to send them to the line to seal the deal.
Notably, this game was played on UE’s terms. All the aspects of this game should have normally favored the Warriors given the pace and the rate of scoring, however it was that third quarter drought that ultimately spelled their doom.
Both Adamson and UE are the fasted paced teams in the league today averaging 83.6 and 87.7 possessions per game respectively. Since this game was played at a 91.5 pace, it should have favored the Warriors. Even turnover rates were in the favor of the Warriors as they finished with a 15.1% turnover rate against the 26% of the Falcons. The problem they had, which the Falcons capitalized on, was their field goal efficiency.
How do you make up for a 34.7% field goal efficiency? Get more possessions or get points from the line. UE did neither as the Falcons won the rebounding battle even if just so slightly. Okay? So how about getting to the line? Nope. The Warriors only produced 11.4% of their points from the line, a far cry to the 33.9% that the Falcons got. How did the game end up so close? UE had slightly more possessions than Adamson, just slightly. But their failure to capitalize on them meant their fantastic upset against one of the top teams would go to waste.
In the end, basketball is all about making buckets. By accident or by design, the Falcons managed to prevent the Warriors from doing so all while piling up their own lead. What was once their biggest problem is quickly becoming their greatest weapon. Their offense has been decent since the start of the season. They have been consistently producing points at 80 points per 100 possessions per game, it’s their commitment to shutting teams down that has gotten them three wins when many expected early in the season that they would get none.