MANILA, Philippines – #AtinTwo. #AminTwo. Call it whatever you want, but the UP Fighting Maroons and the Adamson Soaring Falcons are now on the verge of history.
Once known as the afterthoughts and laughingstocks of the UAAP, the two streaking teams are now both one win away from facing the defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP Season 81 Finals.
Just 3 to 4 years ago, the thought of an Adamson vs UP game selling out the Araneta Coliseum seemed inconceivable. But now, it’s actually happening.
The blockbuster do-or-die showdown is set at 3:30 pm on Wednesday, November 28. (LIVE UPDATES: Adamson vs U.P. – UAAP Season 81 Final Four Game 2)
The light blue buildings in San Marcelino are now set to lay empty as thousands of “klasmeyts” are asked to flock to the Big Dome. The Sunken Garden in Diliman will now be a giant live screening area because tickets are just not enough to accommodate all the Iskos and Iskas.
This is the perfect picture of how crazy this season has become. An Adamson-UP game is now the hottest thing in Philippine basketball, and the numbers will tell exactly why.
The pressure is now on for both teams to end decades upon decades of futility. The Falcons, now soaring high under multi-titled head coach Franz Pumaren, are looking to clinch their first finals berth since 1992 and possibly go on to win their first title in exactly 40 years.
Meanwhile the Maroons, helmed by alum Bo Perasol, broke a 21-year long Final Four drought and are now gunning for their first finals appearance since 1986 – 32 years since they won their last championship.
But historical implications aside, this game will also mean that one side will definitely see the end of their beloved players’ UAAP careers.
In his final season, Sean Manganti has cemented his place as a certified artist in the clutch, even earning the unofficial nickname “UP killer” after nailing 3 game-winners over the Maroons in just two seasons.
Time and again, the fiery Fil-Am forward has either broken hearts or made a lot of them beat faster. He could be having an off game for 3 quarters and suddenly still drive daggers to a team with timely scoring bursts. Those 14.9 points per game could come from anywhere, which makes him all the more deadly against any opponent, especially UP.
But if you’re talking about clutch, you can’t exclude the man who created a catchphrase out of it. After a lackluster first round in the eliminations, Mr. “Atin ‘To” Paul Desiderio has since bounced back and proven himself to still be a crucial piece in an offense dominated by MVP Bright Akhuetie and Mythical Five super sophomore Juan Gomez de Liaño.
Like Manganti, Desiderio could be having an off game and still be a threat to take over. This was perfectly summarized just last game, where the Cebuano hotshot scored all 19 of his points in the 2nd half, including a go-ahead mid-range jumper in the closing seconds. Like Manganti, those 14.1 points could come anytime from anywhere. With his collegiate career in the balance yet again, you just know there’s always a scoring eruption just waiting in the wings.
Overall, the averages show why Adamson-UP games mostly go down to the wire.
UP is the league’s best scorer with a 79.8 points per game average while Adamson only norms 73.3. However, the Falcons counter that with a second-best defense, allowing just 70.8 points per game from the opponent while the Maroons lag at sixth with 77.1 points allowed.
UP is also the league’s most pass-happy team with an average of 19.4 assists per game while Adamson is not far behind at 15.1. Incidentally, the Falcons are the best team equipped to intercept those passes, evidenced with a league-high 6.9 steals per contest while the Maroons also get their fair share at 5.3.
UP is also ahead of the pack in dominating the paint with an average 44.3 points per game inside the restricted area. However, Adamson can very well neutralize that, averaging a third-best 4.3 blocks a night while definitely contesting a lot of shots that otherwise don’t get swatted away.
Just by the numbers, Adamson and UP have proven to be the perfect matchup all season long. Now, they will go to war again for all the marbles in front of legions of success-starved fans. – Rappler.com