Adamson University hammered out a 72-64 victory over Nazareth School of National University to formalize its entry to the Final Four of the UAAP Season 85 high school basketball tournament Wednesday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.
Extending their winning streak to nine games, the Baby Falcons, who avenged their opening-day loss to the Bullpups, also suddenly found themselves alone on top of the standings with four games left in the eliminations.
“There’s a prize kapag nasa top ka. Lahat ng nasa ibaba, ikaw ang target. Ang sabi ko kanila, maging consistent lang tayo, who knows? Sinong mag-aakala na magna-No. 1 kami?” said Adamson University coach Mike Fermin.
Ateneo made the Final Four race interesting with a 88-82 win over UP Integrated School in the last game, tying De La Salle-Zobel and University of Santo Tomas at 4-6.
The Baby Falcons were comfortably ahead 57-45, at the end of the third quarter and were clinging to a 63-52 advantage on a Peter Rosillo lay-up.
NSNU, however, mounted a run and trimmed down the deficit to 64-68 on a Reinhard Jumamoy jumper with over a minute remaining.
But Adamson, learning the lessons of its 66-69 loss in the season opener made sure that there will be no meltdown this time as Vince Reyes converted a lay-up and two free throws in the final 49.4 seconds.
“Fortunately, sa dulo kumapit. We had three turnovers na crucial that they (Bullpups) converted to six points. We were up by 11 so baba ng lima kaagad. So sabi ko, huwag bibitaw. Kapag naitawid ang bola, huwag magmamadali,” said Fermin. “Mabuti kumapit ang mga bata. Hat’s off to them.”
Rosillo led the Baby Falcons with 22 points and five rebounds to prevail in their duel with his close friend Jumamoy, who came through with 25 points, five assists, three steals, and three boards for the defending champions.
Kristian Porter had massive numbers of 25 points and 24 rebounds to go along with five assists and two steals as the Blue Eagles overcame LeBron Nieto’s 0-of-10 shooting from the field to beat the surprisingly tough Junior Fighting Maroons.
“It’s a good win for us to get back to the Final Four hunt,” said Ateneo coach Reggie Varilla. “But I’m not impressed with the way we performed today. UP came in to fight, we didn’t.”
With the race for the No. 4 spot too close to call, the 6-foot-5 Porter is looking forward to the Blue Eagles remaining aggressive in their remaining elimination round matches.
“This win will help us to focus on our next goal,” said Porter. “We will just keep on focusing, practicing, and building our strength and see what the next games bring us.”
Kobe Demisana filled the stats sheet with 28 points, 19 rebounds, seven blocks, five assists, and two steals while Jonas Napalang also scored 28 points for the 1-9 Junior Fighting Maroons.
AdU (72) — Rosillo 22, Reyes 13, Medina 11, Bonzalida 10, Edding 8, Carillo 6, Abayon 1, Perez 1, Mepaña 0, Garcia 0, Sajili 0.
NSNU (64) — Jumamoy 25, Colonia 19, Yusi 9, Timbang 3, Perciano 2, Herrera 2, Demetria 2, Alfanta 1, Solomon 1, Tagotongan 0, Usop 0.
Quarterscores: 12-15, 34-35, 57-45, 72-64
Ateneo (88) — Porter 25, Salandanan 15, De Guzman 15, Nieto 6, Adevoso 6, Domangcas 5, Fidel 5, Santiago 4, Arada 2, Ebdane 2, Urbina 2, Tupas 1, Prado 0, Delos Santos 0, Aguirre 0.
UPIS (82) — Demisana 28, Napalang 28, Valdeavilla 10, Raymundo 10, Villaverde 4, Melicor 2, Gomez de Liaño 0, Cordero 0, Rosete 0.
Quarterscores: 18-22, 48-43, 68-53, 88-82