“And the million peso question is. Was there a FOUL?” – Falcons assistant coach Jan Julius Colina via Twitter

”The referees should let the players decide the outcome of the game.” – Falcons head coach Leo Austria

You can just imagine the frustration that has amassed as a result of that unsportsmanlike foul called on Falcons’ Gian Lloyd Abrigo in the waning seconds of this game.

 The Falcons were trailing the entire game, with a few minutes left, Coach Leo pulls the plug on his trusty starters and fields his energetic spark plugs. Abrigo and Trollano take turns going on a scoring run. From as much as 17 down, they tie the game at 65 all. Jeron Teng gets sent to the foul line, he drains both. Falcons attempt to answer but turn the ball over. Just enough time to force a defensive stop and still get the ball back. They trap Teng at the right wing, force the ball out of bounds but it’s still La Salle ball. Only four seconds left on the shot clock, La Salle tries to inbound the ball only to be stopped by a referee whistle. Abrigo is called for an unsportsmanlike foul while jostling for position against Norbert Torres. The Lasallians cheer. The Adamsonians get confused.

 There’s nothing like a referee call to ruin an epic comeback, now is there? But then again it also ruined the perfect opportunity for La Salle to prove it can stave off a late game collapse. Yes, they drained their late-game freethrows, bravo, but you just have to wonder what could have been had those two freethrows plus possession had not been. Thanks for robbing us of greatness from either team, refs, thanks a lot.

Review of the Keys to the Game

Keep it close

I can’t believe how horribly they failed in doing this. For most of the game they were trailing by double digits. It wasn’t until that fourth quarter run that the game even became interesting.

I was part of a CS Walkway crowd that afternoon, watching the game from a projector screen setup by our IT Department. Rain was looming over our heads, but we stood there and watched from whatever angle we could find. I went out there to join the Adamsonian public when the online live feed was too choppy to watch and La Salle just ran up the lead to 11-4. For the next three quarters, it was an agonizing sight as classmates around me started saying, “Ay! Anu ba ‘yan? Ba’t ganun? Score ba ‘yan?” (What is that? Why is it like that? Is that really a score?) It was crazy as Adamson gave up turnover after turnover and then allowed uncontested jumpshot after uncontested jumpshot. What little misses La Salle made, they rebounded. It was a horrifying sight.

When the score read 55-42 in favor of La Salle, oh boy how I wished I was wrong. I never wanted to be so wrong this entire season.

 Adamson eventually caught up, but all that controversial stuff happened, so we’ll never know what could have been.

 Let Teng shoot!

La Salle barely used Teng in their offense. They played their best basketball when they kept the ball away from Jeron. Teng was very picky with his shots too, resulting in his high field goal percentage for most of the game. He also made four of four freethrows in the game, which is a big improvement on his part.

First half 24.62% 50%
Second half 22.40% 30.8%

Adamson couldn’t force the ball to Teng because La Salle’s big men were burning them time and time again. Norbert Torres and Jason Perkins combined for 23 of La Salle’s points on 8 of 14 shooting while Arnold Van Opstal added another 10 points on 3 of 5 attempts.

With other player scoring and producing that efficiently, there was no reason for the Archers to force the ball to Teng.

Win the rebound battle

(Photo Credit: Josh Albelda, UAAP Sports TV)

We lost this one, again! For the third straight game, Adamson has been out-rebounded. Only Celladonio Trollano Jr. rebounded in the double figures, Sewa and Brondial only grabbed 8 and 7 boards each respectively. This allowed La Salle, with their already high field goal percentage to further punish the Falcons while preventing their own second chance opportunities which they sorely needed.

Jason Perkins was the only Archer to rebound more than 10 boards, but the rest of the team chipped in nicely with Jeron Teng coming up with eight, N. Torres with five, Vosotros with four, Van Opstal with four, Revilla with two, T. Torres with four, Tampus and Salem had one apiece.

The dip in rebounding might be attributed to Sewa’s absence from the court most of the time, playing off the bench in favor of the much smaller Mike Agustin, possibly not willing to further injure his right shoulder which he pulled in their game against Ateneo.

Review of Key Matchup

Cruz vs. Teng

As the main offensive threats of their teams, both Cruz and Teng did a pretty good job doing what they’re supposed to do which was score. Cruz ended the game with 13 points, Teng with 12. Both of them also found their teammates, Cruz getting three assists while Teng had five. It was the way they got their points that made the difference for their teams.

Teng, while he likes to run the break, was given a lot of jump shots that he liked, thus making a lot of them. Cruz on the other hand didn’t play his usual bang up style offense. No (how did the commentators put it?) “Kamikaze” drives to the hoop, which explains his lack of free throw attempts the entire game. As a result, Cruz’ team had a much harder time finding points, luckily Trollano and Abrigo stepped up big time and gave me and my fellow Adamsonians something to cheer for. Teng wins this because not only did he play well, but his style of play helped his team in their offensive flow.

Final thoughts

In the end, controversial call and all, Coach Leo says it best, “La Salle worked hard for the win, and we don’t blame them. They deserved it because we had a bad start. We fought back, and the sad thing is we didn’t get a good break down the stretch.”

That it even had to come to a point that we needed a late game run to try to win this game was  our own doing, but our hats go off to the Archers for pushing us to our limits and exposing our weaknesses.

A very bright spot from this game was, well… Did you see that Trollano-Abrigo run?! Don Trollano, a known three-point shooter, was sidelined early this season due to an ankle injury during the pre-season. He was reduced to just shooting from outside in previous games, but now that (I presume) he’s back to good health, he’s doing it from all over the court. The same goes with Abrigo who is supposed to be on the team for hustle purposes. He is probably the smallest big man in the league with the size and height of a guard, but banging it up with the centers and forwards.

What impressed me the most with their performance was that when Coach Leo gave them the green light, they took it. They did not hesitate at all to take the ball away from Cruz, they did not hesitate to run the play for themselves or take the shots, knowing that they could make it, they could score on their own. This kind of confidence from bench players is a great breath of fresh air for Falcons hopefuls who have seen their team struggle past the starting five last season. The Falcons are becoming more and more like the “glory days” when Coach Leo had the luxury of a 10 man deep rotation and anybody could play in the stead of anybody, meaning it was simply a matter of finding the right matchups.

Did we lose this game? Yes. Should we have lost this game? Probably, yes too. Was this game a total loss? Nope. Had that foul not been called, could we have won? Maybe.

The Falcons will face their final road block into proving they are contenders this year. Show up or shut up, that’s this Sunday.