Adamson Soaring Falcons def. UP Fighting Maroons, 69-68
Sean Manganti, Adamson (18 points, 2 assists, 54% FG)
Just as Adamson’s ship was sinking in the 3rd quarter, Captain Manganti was there to anchor the comeback. Converting 16 of his 18 points in the 2nd half, Manganti silently kept Adamson within reach just as UP was threatening to pull away and capped it off with a game winning floater with seven-tenths of a second left on the clock.
Jonathan Espeleta, Adamson (10 points, 3 rebounds, 2/2 3PT)
With Captain Manganti anchoring Adamson’s comeback, Espelata served as the steady navigator. The 6’1 forward made crucial shots in the final canto, chipping in seven of his 10 points and hitting the big three point shot that took the lead back for Adamson.
Jerrick Ahanmisi, Adamson (15 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists)
Ahanmisi seemed to be struggling throughout the game as UP’s Jun Manzo and Jarell Lim pesky defense made it difficult for the league’s best shooter to find his touch. But when it mattered the most, Ahanmisi delivered timely baskets, punctuating it with an all-balls three during as the game reached its deep waters.
Bright Akhuetie, UP (20 points, 20 rebounds)
No doubt this was Bright Akhuetie’s best game donning a Fighting Maroon uniform. With a monstrous 20-20 stat line, the 6’7” Nigerian center totally outplayed his counterpart, Papi Sarr, with his constant effort on the glass, making great finishes around the rim off of pick and rolls while playing solid defense on. Too bad his breakout game and potential game-winning putback was spoiled by Manganti.
- What a game. In what seemed to be looming as the first loss for Adamson, the Soaring Falcons somehow made a gigantic comeback in the fourth quarter using their formidable pressure defense and impeccable late game shooting to preserve their unblemished record.
- The opening quarter was business as usual for the Soaring Falcons. Employing their patented 2-2-1 full court pressure zone plus the hot shooting from Jerie Pingoy, who shooed in three 3 pointers, Adamson easily gained control of the early parts of the game. The Maroons, however, were quick to adjust and react. After a 24 point first quarter from Adamson, the Maroons held the Falcons to a six point quarter led by Jun Manzo’s stifling defense against Adamson’s top gunner, Jerrick Ahanmisi.
- In the third quarter, UP threatened to pull away as they unleashed a 24-12 outburst to erect the biggest lead of the game at 52-40. Manganti, however, had other plans as he spearheaded a major comeback for the Falcons to turn the game into a thriller. With UP holding a 65-61 lead with less than 3 minutes to go, Ahanmisi and Espelata converted back to back threes to regain the lead for Adamson. Akhuetie’s putback shot made it 68-67 with 5.7 ticks left before Manganti made the shot of the night. With Akhuetie intercepting Manganti’s attempted drop pass for Sarr, Manganti grabbed the loose ball and rose for his signature floater to put the dagger in the hearts of the UP community.
- Defense and shooting were the main keys of the game. Both teams played exceptional defense throughout as evidenced by their 37% field goal shooting and almost identical turnover numbers (Adamson with 16 and UP with 15). Adamson’s pressure defense was deadly as per usual forcing the Maroons to commit crucial turnovers during the final minutes of the game. On the other hand, UP was successful in fending off Papi Sarr as a factor for the Soaring Falcons. Both teams also got lofty defensive contributions from their bench players, particularly Simon Camacho for the Falcons and Jarrell Lim for UP. What separated both teams, however, and was vital for the Falcons down the stretch was three-point shooting. UP just shot a lowly 4/16 shooting while Adamson converted 9/19.
- Perhaps, the main factor in the game was the Fighting Maroons’ ability (and inability) to react to Adamson’s full-court defense. During the third quarter outburst of the Maroons, they were able to break down the tested defensive scheme of Coach Franz Pumaren and converted easy layups by making extra passes and scintillating finishes from Paul Desiderio and the Gomez De Liano brothers. Come the fourth quarter, the Maroons settled for rushed and contested shots which eventually surmounted their meltdown.
- UP has now dropped three straight games against top tier teams while Adamson improved their immaculate record to 4-0. With the tournament slowly gaining its footing as it progresses, the Maroons should find their groove back for their next games. Adamson, on the other hand, seemed as lethal as ever. Ahanmisi and Manganti are just on another level of play while the rest of the team looks like they have fully bought into Franz Pumaren’s system.