MANILA, Philippines – Rookie MVP Jake Figueroa proved he deserved his new award in the UAAP Season 82 boys’ basketball tournament as the Adamson Baby Falcons trumped the Ateneo Blue Eaglets, 84-75, in the stepladder semifinals on Wednesday, February 12.
The stellar recruit from Pampanga bucked a two-point first half and finished with 15 points and a staggering game-high 22 rebounds in the do-or-die win for the right to face the FEU Baby Tamaraws in the next stage of the playoffs.
After going down by as many as 14 points, 6-20, in the opening quarter, Adamson stormed back to take a 41-40 lead in the 3rd canto off a Figueroa and-one at the 7:17 mark.
Although Ateneo still led by one, 58-57, entering the final frame, the Falcons soared to a 75-60 lead after a massive 18-2 run in just 4 minutes.
While the Eaglets managed to trim the deficit to single digit, 70-79, after a 10-4 run capped by a LeBron Lopez layup, Adamson slammed the door on their comeback hopes as Joshua Barcelona drove home the dagger inside, 81-70, with 1:01 to spare.
“At halftime, we committed to playing tougher defense. [Ateneo was] having their way in the first half,” said head coach Mike Fermin, who won his first-ever playoff game in the UAAP. “When the second half came, we agreed that we’d make life tough for them.”
John Erolon led 6 Falcons in double-digit scoring with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Ruzzell Dominguez and Nicole Quinal added 13 markers apiece while Barcelona chipped in a 10-point, 10-board double-double.
Forthsky Padrigao led the losing cause for Ateneo with 22 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds while Lopez chipped in 13 markers and a game-high 7 blocks in just 18 foul-plagued minutes on the floor.
However, the rest of the boys’ stepladder semifinals will have to wait along with the rest of UAAP’s second semester games after a league-wide postponement was imposed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Adamson 84 - Erolon 16, Figueroa 15, Dominguez 13, Quinal 13, Guarino 11, Barcelona 10, Cosal 6, Hanapi 0.
Ateneo 75 - Padrigao 22, Jaymalin 20, Lopez 13, Lazaro 12, Espinosa 4, Ladimo 2, G. Salvador 2, Corral 0, De Ayre 0, Nieto 0, Pangilinan 0, M. Salvador 0.
Quarters: 8-22, 29-31, 57-58, 84-75.