Unlike their first round encounter that saw Adamson escape UP with a last-second game-winner, Jerrick Ahanmisi and the Soaring Falcons made sure that no heroics were needed this time around.
Behind a huge third quarter surge led by Adamson’s Most Valuable Player candidate, the Soaring Falcons staved off a late Fighting Maroons run, 80-72, Sunday evening at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
This is Adamson’s eighth win in 10 games to clinch the second Final Four slot. The Soaring Falcons also sank UP to a tie for fifth with a 5-6 slate.
But even if they are assured of a playoff spot, third-year Soaring Falcons head coach Franz Pumaren rued the consistency of his squad.
“We just have to be consistent on the defensive end until the final buzzer,” he lamented.
Adamson relied on the hot hands of Jerrick Ahanmisi in a huge 33-point third quarter that saw Adamson lead by as much as 26 points. Ahanmisi scored 16 of his 24 points during that span, knocking down three triples.
UP then went on a huge run in the final frame behind a Bright Akhuetie-powered 17-2 rally. But Ahanmisi was fouled by Juan Gomez de Liano from beyond-the-arc, knocking down three freebies to stop the bleeding.
A triple by De Liano sliced the lead down to four, 74-70, with 1:33 left, but Manganti struck UP with another one.
Jerom Lastimosa missed on a floater but Simon Camacho, who gobbled down 12 rebounds in the game, grabbed the offensive rebound. After swing a pass to Jerrick Ahanmisi, the Adamson star was able to find Sean Manganti in the corner for the cold-blooded dagger.
“Down the stretch, we have to rely on key plays. It just shows that the qualities of our veterans. Despite the run they made, we were able to keep it together,” said Pumaren.
Manganti had 10 points, while Jerom Lastimosa and Papi Sarr added 14 and 12 markers each.
Akhuetie paced UP with 24 points, 15 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks, while Gomez de Liano tallied 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Paul Desiderio, who dropped a career-high 31 points against the FEU Tamaraws last Wednesday, was limited to just 13 markers.
Adamson will next face fellow league-leaders Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles on Sunday, November 4. UP, on the other hand, look to keep their Final Four hopes alive when they face the National University Bulldogs on Saturday, November 3. Both games will take place at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.
ADU 80 –– Ahanmisi 24, Lastimosa 14, Sarr 12, Manganti 10, Catapusan 5, V. Magbuhos 4, Pingoy 3, Camacho 3, Mojica 3, Bernardo 2, Zaldivar 0.
UP 72 — Akhuetie 24, Ju. Gomez de Liano 15, Desiderio 13, Manzo 8, Ja. Gomez de Liano 5, Vito 5, Jaboneta 2, Lim 0, Dario 0, Prado 0, Gozum 0.
Quarterscores: 12-12, 34-26, 67-48, 80-72.
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