Will the Falcons soar in Season 80? Here’s veteran sports analyst Enzo Flojo dissecting Adamson’s chances in this year’s UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
Who’s out: Jaydee Tungcab, Frederick Pasturan, Harold Ng, Alexis Barrera, Jonathan Ballon.
Who’s back: Robbie Manalang, Sean Manganti, Jerrick Ahanmisi, Nico Paranada, Dawn Ochea, Terrence Mustre, Ralph Chua, Simon Camacho, Jonathan Espeleta, Kristian Bernardo, Papi Sarr.
Who’s new: Jerie Pingoy, , Keith Zaldivar, Kurt Lojera, Tyrus Hill, Leo Frias.
Strengths: One has to love the amount of experience that coach Franz Pumaren is bringing back with him in Season 80. The Falcons have 11 holdovers from Season 79, and their collective experience — especially in the Final Four — should serve the San Marcelino-based squad well in their campaign to improve even more this year. The return of arguably their five best players from last season — Papi Sarr, Jerrick Ahanmisi, Robbie Manalang, Sean Manganti, and Jonathan Espeleta — bodes well for a team that has long been plagued with inconsistency.
We have also seen marked improvements from guys like Kirstian Bernardo and Nico Paranada in the preseason, and together with Dawn Ochea and Terrence Mustre, they will form the core of this Adamson quintet’s supporting cast.
Adamson led the entire tournament last year in 3pt% (31.8%) and perimeter scoring (29.1ppg), and with the team’s chief gunners coming back, the Falcons are set to be among the best three-point shooting units again.
This is one of the deeper and more experienced teams in the UAAP this season, and coach Franz will heavily bank on that as they set their sights not just at a Final Four berth but a spot in the UAAP Finals.
Weaknesses: Two things Adamson really struggled with last season were inside play and bench production. The Falcons were seventh overall in points in the paint (27.7ppg) and dead last in rebounding last year (38.3rpg), while their bench scoring was also the worst (22.7ppg).
To address these shortcomings, coach Franz has called up a handful of new faces to Team A, led by Filipino-American Tyrus Hill and UAAP journeyman Jerie Pingoy. Hill is a 6’6 forward-center whose calling card in the preseason has been his freakish athleticism. His size, length, and jump-out-of-the-gym ability can make him a threat around the basket on both ends of the floor. Pingoy, meanwhile, is raring to prove he can produce in the Seniors’ Division the way he did back in his days with the FEU Baby Tamaraws. The former Batang Gilas player will probably have to play behind Manalang in the rotation (for the most part), but he has what it takes to make an impact and perhaps even be the second unit’s main man.
Prognosis: Adamson will certainly be among the contenders this season, and their experienced crew is a solid base from which coach Franz can form a genuine title favorite. If Sarr, Manganti, and Hill form the kind of indomitable frontline force that can rival what DLSU has, then the Archers will probably have to look over their shoulders by the end of the elims. Still, as big and imposing as Adamson’s frontcourt looks, they will still probably live and die with their perimeter production, which means relying heavily on Ahanmisi, Manalang, Mustre, and Pingoy.
In all, the Falcons will probably return to the Final Four, but whether they soar higher and beyond that is still very much up in the air.