With 1.4 seconds left in the game, the Soaring Falcons were staring down a 2 point deficit after Dave Ildefonso hit a clutch layup at the other end. Jerom was set to inbound the ball but couldn’t find any of the shooters open. Before he could get called for a five second violation, Jerom found an open Lenda Douanga on the top of the arc. NU’s Issa Gaye tried to contest the shot, but the ball had already left Lenda’s hands— and into the net it went. Game over, the Soaring Falcons notched their first win of the season in overtime 84 — 83.
The Soaring Falcons started the game flat, turning the ball over and failing to make even the closest of shots right at the basket. Meanwhile the Bulldogs were having their way on offense led by Gilas under-19 guard Dave Ildefonso, forcing the Falcons into a 6-point deficit at the end of the first quarter.
But the Soaring Falcons fought back, attacking the basket on the drive led by veteran shooter Jerrick Ahanmisi who finished the game with 10 points all in the first half. The scoring frenzy allowed the Soaring Falcons to regain the lead 31-30.
Fresh face player Valandre Chauca took over in the 2nd half to steady the Falcons. He totalled 13 points in the game but couldn’t pull away from the Bulldogs. Despite the best effort of team captain Simon Camacho, the Falcons found themselves staring down a 54 – 58 deficit going into the fourth quarter.
Grit and determination allowed the Falcons to claw back into the game and make it a back and forth affair. Man of the hour Lenda Douanga came up with the clutch play, making a game tying tip in to send the game to overtime at 74-all.
Overtime periods have not been kind to the Soaring Falcons recently, as the Falcons went 0 — 2 in overtime games last season. All was going well for the Falcons at the start of the extra period but a string of well executed offensive plays for NU gave them a 2-point cushion with just a little over a second left.
Coach Franz Pumaren, a 5-time UAAP champion coach, has been in this situation too many times to be intimidated. He knew the shooters would be guarded and so put his trust on the 6’11 Douanga. “You take the three,” coach Franz instructed Lenda. His trust was rewarded with 26 points, 16 rebounds and best of all, a win.
At the end of the game, coach Franz acknowledged that the Soaring Falcons were not yet in peak performance despite the win. “We’re still searching for the right combination,” coach Franz said about the relative inconsistency of the Falcons. “That’s the downside of having young guys still searching for the chemistry,” he added.
With the win, the Soaring Falcons improved to a 1 – 1 record, making up for their opening day loss.
The Soaring Falcons face the UE Red Warriors next on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.
Photo credit: Aleckine Troy Rada, The Adamson Chronicle