By Karl Batungbacal
UE Red Warriors def. Adamson Soaring Falcons 80-74
Alex Diakhite (29 points, 13 rebounds, 14/22 FG)
While Ange Kouame and Soulemane Chabi Yo are atop the MVP standings, Alex is starting to creep in the conversation as one of the most dominant foreign student-athletes. Lovingly called “The Diakhammer” in the HumbleBola circle, he showed what it meant to play the center role in the league. Matched up again with Douanga, Diakhite was just too strong for the Soaring Falcons to handle.
Rey Suerte (26 points, 7 rebounds)
The magical run of Rey Suerte in the UAAP continues in this game as he shined alongside the Diakhammer that pushed the Red Warriors to another victroy. Despite shooting only 1 for 5 from the perimeter, he more than made up for it by converting 9 of his 11 free throws. The man is simply an offensive juggernaut and UE is certainly proud to have some swerte on their side.
Jerom Lastimosa (16 points, 2 assists)
Adamson’s resident gunner has been the one to save the team for a big chunk of the season and they should be thankful for him. Jerrick Ahanmisi has barely showed up this season, Val Chauca is on and off, and Sean Manganti has graduated. Lastimosa has been one of the Soaring Falcons’ most serviceable players thus far. Look for him to have a much better 2nd round after this game.
Lenda Douanga (16 points, 17 rebounds)
The miracle man from their game versus NU this season put up another double-double, albeit in a losing effort. Douanga has struggled mightily when matched up against Diakhite because he’s much stronger and just a bit more refined than Douanga. With the Soaring Falcons looking to get back on the right track, Douanga has to play more consistently and with more passion than he’s shown thus far.
What has happened to the Soaring Falcons? They just fell short of a Finals berth last season by way of the UP Fighting Maroons and now they’re nowhere near that level. After a highly convincing preseason showing, Adamson was expected to fight for a Final Four spot this year but they have been on a skid for quite some time now.
For all of Jerrick Ahanmisi’s aspirations of playing for the MVP award, he sure has mightily regressed. Sure, he may be deferring the ball more but once he does have it in his hands, he has a tendency to miss easy point-blank shots. Adamson fans surely have to wonder what’s going on through the mind of their main star player.
UE’s building that momentum as they start off the second round with a win over what should have been a powerhouse Adamson squad. While the offense was run the same for most of the game, the Red Warriors are doing all the right things which helps them win games this season. Move the ball around, get the “Diakhammer” on a mismatch and score from there or have Phillip Manalang or Rey Suerte to use their basketball IQ and score from almost anywhere.
The Red Warriors and their fans have to be happy with how this season is turning out. Realistically, they might not reach the Final Four because of how stacked the other teams are. But as we say, bilog ang bola. Meaning, anything can happen.