After the heartbreak, disappointment and utter failure to start the season, the inevitable has come, the Adamson Soaring Falcons have marked their first win which could not have come at a better time.

The Falcons were bound to win and the stars aligned for this one. The UP was on a slump while Adamson was on the rise. In the previous games of both teams, UP flopped like a fish out of water against Ateneo, while Adamson almost broke the bull against FEU.

Oddly, there was an eerie calmness from what is supposed to be a rag-tag group of call-ups and rookies as UP began to chip away at Adamson’s 19-point lead at the half. Perhaps it was because Jerome Garcia was going supernova in the first half, or that Adamson’s defense was tight enough that the traces of the initial blast caused by Garcia were not only clearly detectable, but were enough to hold off the Maroons’ late game run, which almost cost Soaring Falcons the game.

It seems apparently, that there was a notion going into the game that UP was somehow a defensive team, and that they had a way to stop opposing teams from scoring in bunches. That defensiveness didn’t show up, this game, because by all means, Adamson is not an offensive team, but it sure seemed like it for those 40 minutes.

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Just looking at their team comparisons shows what an anomaly of a game this is for Adamson.

Before this game, Adamson averaged at a lowly 79 points per 100 possessions. Their effective field goal percentage was a league worst 36.6%. Yet somehow, their offensive output went up this game. It didn’t skyrocket, but it did improve to a more respectable 86.4. This could easily have been caused by an improvement in effective field goal percentage which was 41.4%.

How did they do this?

A lot of the credit has to go to the first half supernova that was Jerome Garcia.

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I would be lying if I said I knew he had it in him to put up the points he did. And apparently, so would everyone else, including UP. After sinking back-to-back midrange jumpers, I was thinking to myself, “Hey, not bad, the guy has confidence in his jumper.” Little did I expect the frenzy that would later ensue. As we looked up to a 19-point lead going into the second half, Adamson’s number 7 had 17 points to his name, and all I could say to myself at that time was, “Daaaaaaayum!”

When the game was done, Garcia knocked down five three-pointers out of ten attempts while hitting three shots from inside to total 26 points. What was once Papi Sarr‘s usual usage rating at 29.3% shifted to Garcia and he rewarded the Falcons for their trust with a 116.1 offensive rating and a 70% effective field goal percentage.

But it wasn’t like Sarr was taken out of the picture. Sure, he scored only eight points all game long, but he still ended up with a 120.1 offensive rating mostly because of the seven offensive rebounds he got for the Falcons. And frankly, UP’s guards were so afraid of Sarr’s defensive presence that they would think twice about the layup whenever they saw him.

Worth noting is the performance of Joseph Nalos, who has been the most consistent of the Soaring Falcons offensively. By now he’s already a marked man, but it hasn’t bothered him that much as he manages to deliver an offensive output around the 88-90 points per 100 mark.

JD Tungcab has also seen a lot of improvement from the first games of the season. By limiting the time he handles the ball, the Falcons have found a way not only to raise his offensive production, but also cut the turnover percentages. He started the season with a 62.5% turnover rate against UST but has managed it to a decent 13.2% against UP.

It also helped that UP got into the penalty really quickly. This allowed the Falcons to stay aggressive on offense, resulting in a 33 to 14 free throw opportunity difference, despite the five extra free throws given to UP via the four technical fouls called on Adamson.

Adamson made most of them count as they scored 20 points off the freebies, while UP split all of theirs.

Review of the Winning Conditions

Papi Sarr USG% is less than 27%- 11.4%

UP did a good job in denying Sarr in the post. He managed only eight points all game and the entry passes that Adamson learned against FEU just weren’t there this game. Fortunately it resulted in Jerome Garcia’s emergence as another scorer for the Falcons.

Jett Manuel eFG% is less than 35%- 0

He didn’t play much and didn’t become a factor this game.

Diego Dario TS% is less than 40%- 23.3%

Dario was made to struggle all game, actually almost all the Maroons struggled all game. They had a hard time driving to the lane because of Sarr’s presence. Only Paul Desiderio threatened to bring the Maroons back into the game, but his lack of connections downtown eventually caught up with him as the Falcons clamped down in the paint.

Adamson Soaring Falcons eFG is greater than 40%- 41.4%

This is in most part caused by Jerome Garcia’s amazing shooting. But it wasn’t that he was hitting Kiefer Ravena-like shots. He was facing up and hitting open shots, shots that the defense gave him. It came down to recognizing the opportunities he had and making the most of them. It shows what kind of damage the Falcons can do when they execute on offense.

Final Thoughts

The second round will be interesting as the Falcons have finally gotten into a groove of their own. They’ve busted into the win column, it’s going to be a matter of building on the lessons they have learned and turning them into victories. They’ve found out how to use their best scorer. They’ve found out who they can rely on to carry their offense. They’ve found out another offensive threat. They’ve grown so much since the start of the season, but the growth cannot stop here.