A few adjustments could make a world of difference for the Adamson Falcons

By Klyde Manansala | Photo by Tristan Tamayo

The Adamson Falcons are clearly in a funk right now.

For a moment they were enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage, and in a blink of an eye, their chances of winning a second title and their first in 40 years was in jeopardy after falling to the UP Fighting Maroons, 73-71, on Saturday.

Throughout the eliminations round, the Franz Pumaren-led squad has been nothing but impressive after winning 72 percent of their games. Their 10-4 record put them under everyone’s radar before finding themselves on the brink of elimination in the Final Four.

Given their loss to UP last week, it’s safe to say that Adamson needs to tweak and figure out a few things to get themselves back on the title track. If anything, setting the tone of the game will be the number one key in getting out of the rut. That’s what they failed to do last time before making a run and outscoring UP in the final frame, 28-19.

The Falcons have lost their last two games, including their controversial 56-82 blowout to FEU in the eliminations round, where Pumaren decided to sit out two of his best scorers in Jerrick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti due to “injuries.”

Adamson is equipped with the right tools. They just need a few in-game adjustments. They could start by doing what they do best: Defense

In those two losses, Adamson shot a subpar five percent clip from the three-point line. They drained but one shot in all of their 20-plus attempts. The usually great scoring hands of Ahanmisi was off the mark in their UP loss, hitting just one of his seven three-pointers while shooting a dismal 15 percent from the three-point field. Manganti, however, reached double-digit with 15 markers but also struggled in the same area (0-6). The lone bright spot in Adamson’s offense was Papi Sarr, who finished with a game-high 23 points albeit with four turnovers.

Heading into the the semifinals, Adamson has limited their opponents from getting easy buckets in the two-point area by 42.2 percent, the second best in the league. UP meanwhile is the best at scoring near the rim, averaging 44.4 points per game in the paint per outing with a conversion rate of 51.6 percent.

Last Saturday, it looked like Adamson did what they do best after Bright Akhuetie got limited ball touches and only scored four of his six total points in the front court, including the game-deciding basket. However, UP was still able to register 46 points underneath, courtesy of Paul Desiderio, Juan and Javi Gomez De Liaño, and Jun Manzo. Adamson’s failure to stop the bleeding from underneath has taken its toll. If they continue to let UP dominate the paint in their rubber match, it could be tough for Adamson to book a trip to the finals.

Heading into the the semifinals, Adamson has limited their opponents from getting easy buckets in the two-point area by 42.2 percent, a league second-best. They’re first in steals with 7.2, and second in perimeter points (20.4) allowed per game

The Falcons also need to take good care of the ball. In their last two losses, they turned the ball over 30 times—and their opponents have taken advantage of it. UP converted 11 points off those turnovers while FEU scored 10. However, Adamson has replicated that stat. They were able to score 16 points off UP’s turnovers. Though it’s a good thing that they make the most out of their opponent’s mistakes, they cannot let UP do the exact same thing to them.

Other than the scoring drought and poor defense from the paint and perimeter area, Adamson did good but not enough to win over UP who’s confidence is at its peak. The Falcons had 17 dimes last night and had out-rebounded UP in the offensive glass, 15-10. They also only had 12 fouls in 48 minutes of action, compared to UP’s 25—and they leveraged it after draining 70 percent of their free throws (22/31).

Adamson is equipped with the right tools. They just need a few in-game adjustments. They could start by doing what they do best: defense.