MANILA, Philippines – After years of being overshadowed by dominant UAAP teams, the Adamson Soaring Falcons and the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons have exceeded expectations to crash into the Final Four.
But now isn't the time to celebrate yet as both teams may be in for another cardiac game on Saturday, November 24 at 3:30 pm at the Mall of Asia Arena. (LIVE UPDATES: Adamson vs U.P. – UAAP Season 81 Final Four Game 1)
The Falcons, who own a twice-to-beat advantage as the No. 2 seed, shoot for their first title berth in 26 years.
But the Maroons want to spoil that and force a do-or-die game on Wednesday.
Adamson may have swept UP in the elimination round, but the Falcons needed Sean Manganti's heroics in both games to escape from the gritty Maroons.
Even if he drained the dagger three in Adamson's last win over UP, Manganti looks to improve his 21% shooting from beyond the arc to help the Falcons dispose of the Maroons early. (READ: No heartbreaker needed: Manganti wants to crush U.P. early)
But hoping to keep the fight in UP is Javi Gomez de Liaño, who had delivered for the Fighting Maroons in crucial stretches and notched a season-high of 19 points versus La Salle.
MVP Bright Akhuetie also continues to be a solid threat at the paint, posting his usual double-double output for the Fighting Maroons, who are looking to ride on a three-game winning streak and the momentum from ending a 21-year Final Four drought.
"They’re playing well," Pumaren said of the Maroons.
"I think coach Bo Perasol already knows the right rotation. They’re the number one team in fastbreaks, we just have to slow it down. We’ve been winning because we’re not concentrating on one individual. We love to concentrate on trying to hold down the whole team."
The Fighting Maroons do top the table in the fastbreak department, tallying 14.6 fastbreak points per contest.
They have also been effective in their pace of 79.37 possessions per game as they are able to chip in 101.16 points per 100 possessions, which is second to defending champion Ateneo.
Adamson, though, has already been effective in strengthening its ball-handling and limiting fastbreak points. The Falcons held their opponents to an average of 3.7 steals and allowed just 9.7 fastbreak points per game to rank second behind Far Eastern University.
But in this showdown between the Falcons and the Fighting Maroons – who proved to be evenly matched all season – it may again just all boil down to the breaks of the game. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.