After a half-a-decade absence, Adamson finally lived up to its ‘soaring’ tag as they made the Final Four of UAAP Season 79.
Behind new mentor Franz Pumaren and a cohesive squad led by big man Papi Sarr and youngsters Jerrick Ahanmisi and Robbie Manalang, the San Marcelino squad backed by Akari Lighting has surpassed expectations and will face top seed La Salle in the semifinals.
Game 1 is set on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena, with the Green Archers heavy favorites to boot out the upstarts.
But as the saying goes, all is fair in love and war, and the Falcons are ready to defy the numbers and possibilities against a seemingly unbeaten La Salle to march back in the Finals.
Behind the team’s ambitious mission, the entire Adamson community, including proud alumni, ultimately believe this year’s team can pull off a surprise or two.
Rain or Shine guard Jericho Cruz, who donned the blue and white from 2012-2014, commends the Falcons’ resolve in embracing Pumaren’s system.
“I’ve been surprised they mastered the system right away,” said the wily wingman. “We were able to win more than five games and that’s showing something about their dedication.”
Cruz, already a star in his own right in the PBA after winning last season’s Most Improved Player award, has been closely following Adamson’s campaign and is proud of his juniors.
“Most of them are rookies, it was really something special as they were able to make it (in the Final Four) and the numbers showed it,” he added.
Don Trollano, another ex-Falcon and Cruz’s teammate at Rain or Shine, was also turned into an instant believer upon seeing the quality of the 2016 Adamson team.
“Yung start nila maganda na talaga kaya expect ko na talaga na Final Four. Kahit di ako nakarating ng Final Four,” he shared.
But aside from the players, Star forward Rodney Brondial also gave credit where it is due, and that starts with Pumaren and his coaching staff.
“Sobrang galing ng coaches nila, credit talaga sa ginawa nilang pagbabago sa team,” said Brondial, who was part of the last Adamson team that went for back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2010 and 2011.
And along with the changes, the former Adamson heroes expects the Falcons are up to the challenge of pulling off an almost improbable feat of beating La Salle.
“Di natin masasabi yan, yung kala nating unbeatable, beatable pala, so kung nagawa ng ibang team, kayang kaya ng Adamson yan,” shared Brondial.
“Kailangan lang nila talaga maging solid and ibigay yung A game nila,” added Trollano, expecting big games from Sarr, Ahanmisi, and Manalang.
“You will never know, some didn’t expect Adamson in the Final Four, and yet here we are. UAAP is full of surprises, it’s possible and I can wait to watch the next game,” viewed Cruz.
More than feeling the pressure, Brondial advised the Falcons to live in the moment as they clash with La Salle — led by superstars Jeron Teng and Ben Mbala.
“Enjoying nila yan kasi sobrang sarap feeling ng Final Four. Sobrang sarap nyan lalo na yung support ng Adamson community, so sana sulit in nila pag nandun na sila,” he said.
And if ever they could not get past the Archers, Cruz is confident that there is still a brighter future ahead of Adamson.
“Adamson is playing good basketball right now, with their experience in the years to come, hopefully they can bring back the title in San Marcelino,” said Cruz.