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The Adamson University Soaring Falcons, prior to the season, were penciled in by most pundits to take home zero to just a single win in the 78th season of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament.

A rough off-season saw the San Marcelino cagers switch coaches from fiery PBA legend Kenneth Duremdes to relatively unknown Mike Fermin. Their brightest prospect, Matthew Aquino, then moved from San Marcelino to Jhocson Street in a huge coup for the Bulldogs.

With nine rookies in the line-up – only one being considered as a blue-chip recruit -, and with a transferee from a season ago being the veteran player in the squad, only a handful “respected” this batch of Adamson Soaring Falcons.

Then came the start of the season and just as the vast majority expected the Soaring Falcons lost their first six outings. Moreover, they lost by a wide-margin in averaging a -13.8 points a game.

In their final outing for the first round, Adamson faced the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in a 7 vs. 8 matchup – a familiar sight since the 76th season of the UAAP. “Let’s end the first round with a win!,” was the battlecry of Fermin to his troops prior to the game.

The Soaring Falcons fought through the Fighting Maroons and five technical fouls in the crucial minutes of the game to notch their first win of the season.

The win also introduced a Adamson’s cast of unheralded players to the wide collegiate basketball audience. Hulking yet soft-spoken Cameroonian student-athlete Pape Sarr, aggressive floor general Joseph Nalos, sweet-shooter Jerome “J-Gars” Garcia, and lanky wing JD Tungcab fought their hearts out night-in and night-out for Adamson.

Exactly 20 days after notching their first win, the young squad, who were on a three-game losing streak then, faced a heavily-favored De La Salle University Green Archer squad. Again, no one gave them a shot of winning this game and for three quarters they were right. The Green Archer lead grew to a game-high 16 points and were leading by 11, 59-48, with a quarter to go. The Falcons then switched their defensive stance in the final quarter.

The switch to a 2-3 zone confounded the Green-and-White squad as Sarr anchored the defensive stand. On offense, Nalos and Sarr teamed up to torch the Archers in the fourth quarter hijack.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Can you see us now?    “We are out here to prove that we are not just a one-win team,” said Fermin after that game. Fermin then added that he gave credit to the boys. “Sila nag-eexecute, kami lang taga-gawa ng gameplan,” the rookie interim head coach explained.

After getting blown out by FEU, the Falcons were set to face the UE Red Warriors, a squad who’s trying to fight for the last Final Four spot.

“Going into the game, ang sabi ko sa mga bata ‘maybe we haven’t gained the respect of the other teams,'” the 37 year old interim coach disclosed.

Pape Sarr and the Soaring Falcons heeded the call as they surprisingly coasted through the Red Warriors for the majority of the game and made the necessary stops in the end game, a poison that has plagued the squad in the majority of their losses, to secure their third win.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Can you see us now?    Fermin felt that prior to the win, they still weren’t able to gain the respect of the other seven teams in the league in saying, “‘yung panalo namin sa UP, binalikan kami. Then pagkapanalo namin sa La Salle, tinambakan kami ng FEU. “Sabi ko ‘guys, we need to take this win para makuha ang respeto nila,'” he added.

“We just want the respect of the other teams and to prove that we belong in this tournament.”

With just one game remaining in their UAAP calendar for this season, the Falcons have decreased their point differential to just a a -8.7, almost a six point difference after their first round campaign.

Through all this, Fermin is still just the interim head coach of the team. Fermin though doesn’t mind if he does not gain the mantle come next season in saying, “wala namang pressure [on him]. If they want me back, I’ll gladly stay but if they have other plans, I’ll gladly accept it.”

With only one player leaving the team come next season [Joseph Nalos] and the nine rookies the team has right now gaining more maturity and experience, maybe it’s time to bring back the familiarity and continuity the San Marcelino-squad has been lacking since the team had Leo Austria as head coach.

Maybe, interim head coach Mike Fermin is the answer to the futility the Adamson Soaring Falcons have been experiencing the past few seasons.

But definitely, it’s time to give Mike Fermin and the young Adamson Soaring Falcons the respect they deserve.