After getting their first win of the season in the final game of the first round, the Adamson University Soaring Falcons fell to the team they defeated just a week ago, the UP Fighting Maroons, in the opener of the second round.
The cagers from San Mercelino street survived four technical fouls in a span of six minutes to gain their first win of the season but failed to sustain the energy in their second round encounter. 61 total fouls were given in the game, resulting in 73 free throw attempts for both squads combined.
Things got heated late in the game as UP coach Rensy Bajar and Adamson hero Jerome Garcia were involved in a confrontation that resulted in a technical foul for Bajar. The Adamson coach was proud of Garcia’s composure during the incident. “Buti ginawa ni Jerome ay sinumbong niya sa mga referee. Buti na lang hindi nag retaliate si Jerome kay coach Rensy,” Fermin remarked.
However, reflecting on the game, Fermin admitted that their game plan revolved around foreign student-athlete Pape Sarr. “Our game plan was for Pape Sarr. Alam kasi namin na si J-Garcs (Jerome Garcia) will be a marked man,” he said. “Nag-work naman ang game plan kaso nangyari hindi namin nakuha ang hustle points, yung 50-50 balls. Hindi kami naging aggressive parang nanood lang kami,” he added disappointedly.
Assessing the game, Fermin said that his team had become complacent, having defeated the same team the week before. “Ang problema we played well only in the last five minutes ng game. Napansin ng athletic director namin, hindi kami naging consistent, nawala ang hunger namin.” During the end-game huddle, Fermin challenged his players to step up, since it is still possible to score an upset and reach the Final Four. “Kaya tinanong ko sila after ng game kung gusto ba nila mag-Final Four? Dapat ilagay nila sa isip nila na hindi kami pang-one game lang,” the rookie head coach disclosed.
Furthermore, Fermin added that he had sent the Soaring Falcons to a counseling session to instill the winning mindset in team. “Nagtataka na ang athletic director namin, nagpa-counselling na kami wala pa din.” His players assured him, though, that the coaching is not the problem. According to Fermin, Pape Sarr, the team’s leading rebounding and scorer, told him: “Sabi sa akin ni Pape Sarr kanina, ‘coach, you’re not the problem, we are the problem.’ Sa practice okay naman kasi sila pero pagdating ng game nawawala sila sa sistema.”
For Fermin, the missing link is team captain Dawn Ochea. The third-year former CESAFI Juniors MVP has only posted norms of 5.9 points on just 33.3% clip and 4.9 boards in 21.8 minutes of action. “I asked Dawn (Ochea) kung ano ang problema, kasi parang nawawala sila sa laro,” he said about his talk with his 6’4 stretch forward “sabi niya ‘wala naman daw’ pero sa tingin ko prinapressure niya ang sarili niya para manalo.’’
Coach Mike Fermin and the Adamson Soaring Falcons have a week to get their bearings before they face the Ateneo Blue Eagles on Saturday, October 17 at 2:00pm at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
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