Adamson Soaring Falcons def. Ateneo Blue Eagles, 74-70
Jerrick Ahanmisi, Adamson (23 points, 4 rebounds)
Despite his struggles last season, Coach Franz Pumaren still handed the license to score to Ahanmisi. It paid off. He accounted for 17 out of the 67 shots taken by Adamson and hit that three-point shot from deep before halftime that ultimately swung the tide in the Falcons’ favor.
Jerom Lastimosa, Adamson (6 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists)
His only points came late in the second period, but that was the moment when Adamson gained the lead (and momentum of the game which they would not relinquish). Apart from scoring, he distributed the ball well, leading the Soaring Falcons in Assists.
Matt Nieto, Ateneo (21 pts, 4 rebounds, 2 steals)
Matt Nieto was the lone bright spot for the Blue Eagles in this game. He was aggressive in driving to the rim at a high clip (4/6 2FG), earning him 12 free throws, converting 10 of them. His three-point shooting left a lot to be desired (1/7 3FG), but so did the whole team.
- Adamson prepared well for this game. Their defense was stingy, allowing the Ateneo offense to shoot way below their average last season (20/71 FG%, 28.17%). They did a good job in denying Ateneo of their usual offensive options, be uncharacteristically careless and disrupt the flow of their offense (eight assists, 19 turnovers). On offense, The Falcons (particularly Papi Sarr) did a solid job pulling Angelo Kouame out of the paint. Kouame still got his boards (11 rebs), but it neutralized his shot-altering abilities and allowed Adamson easy access to the paint.
- The precise moment the won the game for Adamson came late in the first half. Ateneo held the Falcons scoreless for most of the second quarter, but when the floodgates opened, Adamson unleashed an 11-0 run capped by an Curry-esque three by Jerrick Ahanmisi near the halfcourt line to take the lead from the Blue Eagles. The Soaring Falcons preyed on rookie guard SJ Belangel, throwing him double teams every time he touched the ball that fetched two turnovers and two easy baskets from Jerome Lastimosa. After this turn of events, the Falcons remained in control until the end of the game.
- The rookie bigs of Ateneo looked rattled against the veterans of Adamson. Angelo Kouame and William Navarro both had their good games during the preseason tournaments, but their relative youth showed to start their UAAP careers. Kouame looked lost at times on both ends of the floor, and Navarros’s defense (or lack thereof) allowed the Falcons to feast inside the shaded area. The good news for Ateneo is that this is still the first game of the season and their miscues can be corrected over time.
- Ateneo lived and died by the three-point shot. There was a sequence in the Fourth quarter where Ateneo took three offensive rebounds and all of their reloads led to a three-point attempt. There was minimal ball movement, and even less player movement. As a result, the rhythm that we’ve been so used to with the Blue Eagles couldn’t be seen.
This is a big win for Adamson, an upset even. Superlatives can be easy to throw in because the adrenaline is high, but this is the first game for both teams.
Should Adamson be as happy as they are with the win? Of course. It was a hard-fought victory, and it might come handy down the stretch when every team is jockeying for position.
Should Ateneo be worried with this one loss? No. Adamson is a legitimate title contender, and the title is won in December.
With so much more questions burning in the minds of both camps, one thing is for sure; their second-round matchup is a must-watch.