In what was supposed to be a game of redemption for all the years of torment from the Eagles, the Falcons was simply outplayed in their own game. When a team that has gone down 0-3 breaks your rebounding streak and shoots the lights out, there’s not much you can do but suck it up. They won. They were the better team.
It seems there is and will be, serving after serving of humble pie waiting for the Soaring Falcons. But you know what they say about pie – it’s a dish best served early.
Few expected Ateneo to win, and even less expected it to be 71-59. No matter how anybody looked at it, Ateneo needed a big game and they delivered- plus tip.
Review of Keys to the Game
Get that rebound
I am quite shocked we didn’t win this battle.
For the first time in four games, Adamson has actually been out-rebounded. At halftime Ateneo rebounded 27 misses to Adamson’s 16; at the final buzzer it was 49 for Ateneo while 37 for Adamson. This hurt Adamson a lot. All Ateneo had to do was clamp down in the paint and let shooters shoot, because with the Falcons making only 25% from beyond the arc, rebounds would have been a heaven-sent for them. But noooooo… Not only was Sewa hounded on the boards all game long, Rodney Brondial was practically denied any semblance of a rebounding position every time a shot went up. This resulted in both Ryan Buenafe and JP Erram grabbing 12 rebounds each. Only Sewa got 10 rebounds for the Falcons as captain Brondial managed a measly 6.
They were full after the first quarter. After outscoring the Eagles 16 to 13 in the first ten minutes, their energy level suddenly dropped. The Falcons began heaving shot after shot in the 2nd quarter, allowing themselves to be boxed out and not helping on defense. This resulted in them trailing at halftime 32-28. No matter who Coach Leo put on the floor, they just couldn’t spark anything big. All the shots they made were either on broken plays or contested shots… in short, execution just went out the window. Their appalling free throw shooting was also a horrid sign. No 11 for 11, only 9 of 21. The game would have been different had they been more efficient from the charity stripe.
Bald vs. White
Baldness worked! The Blue Eagles were so shaken up by that loss to La Salle that, like an animal pushed to a corner, they just let everything go and played for their lives. Adamson on the other hand sported mohawks, probably spending more time on their hair than on their game. On offense, they weren’t finding open shooters, with most possessions becoming isolations for Cruz or a touch pass then a shot. On defense, Erram was given too many easy shots for comfort, even so with the hurt Kiefer Ravena, and even Ryan Buenafe.
No, they didn’t listen. Whatever Coach Leo drew up in the locker room went into one ear and out the other. They weren’t running their usual sets, and on the sets they DID run, they were all stagnant. No cutters, no screeners, everyone just going through the motions. The bench players were more than happy to oblige with the movements, but honestly, Gian Lloyd Abrigo coming off a curl from two screens isn’t as effective as Roider Cabrera or maybe Don Trollano doing the same thing. Right play, wrong people. Cabrera was content to just catch and shoot, knowing he was a marked man, off-ball movement should have been key for him. In the end, Coach Leo Austria could only reprimand them, “Masyado tayong nagsirili uli, guys. Wala tayong focus. You let them stop you. Masyado tayong nagpadala sa hype nila!”
Ice them down
The Falcons were able to do this to some degree, but ultimately Ateneo broke through down the stretch. Ateneo ran, Ateneo fans cheered, “Go Ateneo!” Adamson fumbled the ball, everything went Ateneo’s way. Sure, Jericho Cruz hit a triple to somewhat stifle the Ateneo run. Sure, Cabrera did the same. But down the stretch, none of the Adamson players could get anything to go. Ateneo rode their hot streak until the final buzzer and all Adamson did was stand there.
Brondial vs. Buenafe
Rodney Brondial was missing this game. He scored only eight points including a lucky triple and grabbed only six rebounds. His presence could hardly be felt on either side. Ryan Buenafe, however, was back in finals MVP form. He burned the Falcons from long range, he burned them from the paint, he burned them on the rebounds, there was little the Falcons could do to stop him. Buenafe wins this hands down and so they win the game.
Jericho shot too many outside shots early in the game. Him making three of them is fool’s gold, like Lebron James hitting the three, don’t count on him to make them every game. Cruz has to realize he is strongest on the drive, when the team needs him to score, that should be his go-to move.
I still believe that the Falcons’ only opposition this year is themselves. They have shown what they can do working as a unit and working with urgency. There is no excuse for them to lose any game this season, except that they didn’t execute. They were the better team but they didn’t show it.
What awaits Adamson? An uphill battle for the remaining three games of the first round- if there was any time to be served humble pie, now, while the season is still young, is the best time to eat a whole plate of it.