The Adamson Soaring Falcons are ready to take off to new heights this UAAP Season 82 with their added determination and retooled weapon set. They continue to keep their eyes on the prize as the goal of a championship continues to be within reach, but it will take a complete team effort to sustain their fire power even through the playoffs.
Coming off a stellar elimination round where they finished with a 10-4 record and twice-to-beat advantage, the Falcons’ date with destiny was foiled by an and-one waved off at the end of Game 2 of the Semi-Finals. While missing the Finals hurt, losing a twice-to-beat advantage hurt even more, but this served as motivation for the Soaring Falcons to continue on their climb to the top of the championship mountain, knowing that they can do it, knowing that they’ve already come so close.
A New Captain
Leading the climb to the top will be veteran big man Simon Camacho. Playing his fifth and final year with the Soaring Falcons, Camacho’s journey to becoming captain was a slow tough climb, one where he showed his grit and determination every step of the way. Starting off by becoming a household name among the Adamson RSO circles, Camacho tried out of the Falcons and landed a roster spot the old fashioned way. He went from being a limited role player to almost getting cut from the team, but his persistence and determination not only allowed him to hold on to his spot, but to blossom into a leader for the team. It’s this grit, determination and defiance in the face of adversity that he needs to bring and inspire his teammates with in order to overcome their playoff woes.
Camacho won’t be going alone as the two main gunners of the Soaring Falcons will be back to bring their brand of firepower. Jerrick Ahanmisi, who in his debut game in the UAAP dropped 28 points on a hapless UP Fighting Maroons team will be on a mission to take ankles and get buckets. Like his idol Devin Booker, Ahanmisi is a powder keg of scoring just waiting to explode. Teams will swarm him and try to contain him, and when all eyes are on him, shots will rain from other directions.
Spreading defensive lines thin will be Jerom Lastimosa, a revelation from last season. No longer a rookie, Lastimosa will have the green light to run the Falcons offense and call the adjustments on the floor. His playmaking ability is highlighted by his penchant for getting buckets for himself. Don’t let his size fool you, he might be small in height but he has a huge presence on the court.
The Soaring Falcons will be losing contributions from key players like the high flying Sean Manganti and the star guard Jerie Pingoy, but they’ve reloaded with new faces to hopefully fill in the gap.
Most prominent among the new faces is foreign athlete Lenda Douanga. Standing almost 7-feet tall, the Congolese center is set to man the paint for the Falcons. Praised for his agility and stamina, expect Lenda to be the motor that keeps the Falcon jets running.
Among the new faces will be home grown talents like Joem Sabandal whose final year as a Baby Falcon saw him average 14 points and 7 rebounds a game. The UAAP juniors stand out will give the Falcons a hefty boost of energy, adding to their already explosive arsenal of firepower. Boosting them further will be prized recruit Aaron Fermin who showed off his scoring ability in the pre-season, scoring 21 points during the Filoil Tournament.
Follow the leader
All that firepower will be for naught if there’s nobody there to guide them to their target. Fortunately for the Soaring Falcons, they have one of the best coaching minds in Philippine college basketball history manning the sidelines for them. Coach Franz Pumaren and his take no prisoner approach to basketball will be making a return to the Soaring Falcons, continuing to develop on what he started in Season 79. On day one as head coach of the Soaring Falcons, coach Franz Pumaren promised to build a culture of winning, and to help the Falcons win their first championship since the ‘70s. So far, the college hoops legend has already delivered on the first promise, cementing his team in the minds of college basketball fans as perennial contenders for the crown. Coach Franz is still working on his promised championship and this season could be it as his basketball style is now further ingrained in every member of the roster to date.
Locked and loaded, the Soaring Falcons have yet another real shot at a championship building off growth and development. The tools are there, the potential is there, but there’s no room for complacency especially when the seven other teams have reloaded as well. This team is ready for take off, and only time will tell through what heights they will soar.