There are only two weeks left until the elimination round of UAAP Season 82 wraps up, and the race to the Final Four is tighter than ever. While it’s clear that Ateneo is a lock for the top spot, five other teams are still fighting for the last three slots in the playoff round. UP, UST, FEU, La Salle and Adamson are all vying for one of the remaining positions up for grabs by the end of the second round. With no more than two games separating these squads, the competition is expected to go down the wire.
Of all the teams tangled in the battle royale, the Adamson Soaring Falcons will undoubtedly have the hardest time going over the hump. They have the worst record among the clear-cut contenders thus far as they already suffered six losses in 10 games. Moreover, their last four games will be against UP, FEU, UST, and DLSU. Yes, those are the same teams they are fighting against for a spot in the next phase of the tournament. One mistake might cost them the whole race.
There’s a beauty in Adamson’s current struggle though: they hold their own destiny. Every victory by Soaring Falcons would effectively close the gap between them and the other contenders. They don’t need to rely much on teams beating each other for them. All they have to do is win as much as they can to have a shot at the Final Four.
Adamson’s four-game quest to the Final Four will start on Sunday as the Soaring Falcons will face the UP Fighting Maroons at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo. This will be Adamson’s first game in six days, following a convincing win against the NU Bulldogs. They will attempt to build the team’s first winning streak ever since they lost four straight games midway through the elimination phase.
Aside from redemption, Adamson also seeks revenge against the second-ranked team in the UAAP. In their previous encounter against the Fighting Maroons, the Soaring Falcons suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss as they fell victim to UP’s run of thrilling one-point victories in the first round.
Leading the Falcons in their crusade to the Final Four is the trio of Jerrick Ahanmisi, Val Chauca and Lenda Douanga. Adamson has relied on these three for scoring for most of Season 82, as they account for about 40 of the team’s 74-point average in the past 10 games.
However, the Falcons found much-needed reinforcements as AP Manlapaz, Jerom Lastimosa, and Simon Camacho started to provide increasing outputs in the second round. After each of them averaged no more than eight points in the first round, Manlapaz, Lastimosa, and Camacho already had two double-digit scoring games in the second half of the elimination phase.
It is imperative for the Soaring Falcons to lock down on the defensive end as they try to climb closer to the Final Four. Adamson would want to replicate their performance against NU, where they limited the Bulldogs to only 35.8 percent shooting with 16 turnovers throughout the game. The Pumaren brand of defense will be put to test against the Fighting Maroons, a team loaded with players who can score in bunches.
A win on Sunday will give Adamson its fifth win, putting them just a game behind the Fighting Maroons. This will also place the Soaring Falcons on a tie in the win count with the losing team on the FEU-DLSU game on Saturday.