For the second straight year, De La Salle University ousted Adamson University in the Final Four stage of Season 80 University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball competition.
And just like season, the Soaring Falcons gave the Green Archers a big scare only to fold in crunch time.
Head coach Franz Pumaren remained proud of what they have accomplished although he felt his squad could had forced a deciding match on Wednesday if not for those “questionable calls” that saw their double-digit lead dwindle in the fourth period.
“It’s so frustrating. It’s just like rubbing it, getting it away from my players. We worked hard for this. We prepared for it. I don’t think I was outcoached. I don’t think we got outplayed. It’s so disappointing,” said Pumaren, minutes after surrendering an 82-75 decision to Aldin Ayo and the Green Archers in their semifinal match.
“Anyway, it’s a learning experience for us. Two years of playing experience in the Final Four, it will be just going to benefit us in the long run. We just have to be tougher probably next year,” the former La Salle mentor added.
In Season 79, the two teams also clashed in the Final Four round with the top seed Green Archers scoring a shaky 69-64 win over the No. 4 seed Soaring Falcons in the semis.
They met again this season and it seemed Adamson had learned its lessons after dominating the first three quarters of the game and even led by 15 points, 52-37, despite Papi Sarr being hounded by foul trouble.
But La Salle, staring a 54-63 deficit, unloaded a 14-0 run to start the fourth period to reclaim the momentum and take the cue from there to advance to the finals.
Pumaren rued the poor officiating as he felt his team did not get all the breaks, citing the free throws disparity, 39-5, in favor of the Taft-based team.
“I don’t want to sound sourgraping but I guess everybody witnessed it,” said Pumaren, adding that four UAAP coaches texted him right after the game, all mentioning “it was a sad day daw in UAAP.”
Looking ahead, Adamson will only be losing three players for Season 81 – Rob Manalang, Dawn Ochea and Terrence Mustre and Pumaren said his incoming recruits can contribute to the holdovers and make them a Final Four contender again.
“We experienced playoff scenario only last season and now, we experienced it again. It’s a learning process. We just cannot fast track it. We just cannot do it overnight,” he ended.
JOEL L. ORELLANA