Adamson University shocked defending champion Far Eastern University (FEU), 61-59, to move one game closer of clinching a Final Four berth on Sunday in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Despite being out-rebounded in the entire game by the Tamaraws (31-52), the Falcons banked on their hard nosed defense in the entire game particularly in the second half forcing their opponent to commit 27 turnovers and gain 21 points from there.
“It’s our defense that helped us,” Adamson coach Franz Pumaren told reporters during the post game interview. “I guess we really need this type of game especially our last three games are tough so we need additional experience.”
Sean Manganti piled up 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting in the field to go along with seven rebounds, four assists and two steals to lead the Falcons, while guard Robbie Manalang made 12 points and Jonathan Espeleta contributed eight points.
But Pumaren, who steered De La Salle University to multiple UAAP titles in the past, was not satisfied in how they closed out the game after leading by as many as seven points in the last three minutes.
“If you look at the game especially in the last three minutes, we are in total control but it still shows us the resemblance of a young team,” he added. “We did not play smart. Although we have fouls to give, we didn’t run our offense right.”
Down by 9-17 at the end of first period, Manganti, Manalang and Kristian Bernardo joined forces in the second frame by leading the Falcons’ 21-15 assault in that quarter trimming the deficit to just 30-32 at the half.
The Falcons, using their dreaded trapping defense, held off the Tamaraws to only 12 points in the third canto. FEU’s defense, however, wasn’t that tight allowing Adamson to squeeze out 16 points in third period and seize the advantage at the start of fourth period, 46-44.
Adamson unleashed a 12-7 run at the start of fourth canto highlighted by Jerrick Ahanmisi’s jumper providing them their biggest edge, 58-51, with only three minutes left in the game. But FEU didn’t surrender by narrowing the gap to only 59-60 after answering back with an 8-2 run.
FEU got the possession back with only 3.8 left in the game after Adamson’s turnover. Pumaren called for a timeout and set up a good defensive play forcing Monbert Arong to commit a crucial travelling error with less than a second left in the game.
Manganti split his free throws to peg the final score.
With the victory, Adamson solidifies its hold of fourth place with 6-5 win-loss record and becomes one game closer of moving to the final four while National University stays at fifth with 5-8 record.
FEU remains in second place though with an 8-3 mark followed by Ateneo De Manila University at third with 7-4 record.
“We talked about our turnovers today,” FEU coach Nash Racela told reporters. “We have 27 and that’s our point of concern. I’m hoping we correct it our next game.”
FEU will play Ateneo De Manila University on Wednesday.
In the second game, University of the Philippines tamed University of Santo Tomas, 74-69, to stay in the Final Four race with a 5-8 card.
The Growling Tigers dropped to 3-9.