The Adamson Falcons made a loud and resounding statement in the opening weekend of the UAAP by defeating the defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles,74-70, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Papi Sarr converted on a tough putback to give the Falcons a 72-70 lead with 39.4 seconds left. Ateneo then failed to hit their shots and Sean Manganti finished the game with a pair of clutch free throws.
As soon as the buzzer sounded, the Falcons jumped in jubilation at center court. The Falcons displayed incredible poise and grit to pull the impressive win against the title-favorites.
"Of course, kudos to my coaching staff. They did a great job. And also to the players for following the instruction," said coach Franz Pumaren after the victory. "I don't know if Ateneo was too complacent today. We lost to them badly last summer."
Jerrick Ahanmisi was in a zone all game long as he netted 23 points on 8-for-17 shooting. He even knocked down a halfcourt shot that capped off an 11-0 run by the Falcons heading into the break. In the third, the Falcons buckled down on defense. The constant ball and player movement that had been a staple for the Blue Eagles was stifled by the Falcons. After scoring 39 points in the first two quarters, Ateneo was limited to just 12.
But the Blue Eagles proved their championship mettle by fighting back in the final frame. Matt Nieto scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth to give Ateneo a chance. A putback dunk by Thirdy Ravena knotted the game at 70 apiece with 1:01 left in the contest. Unfortunately, that was the last basket for the defending champions.
The Blue Eagles struggled from the field, hitting only 28 percent of their shots. They were also 8-for-35 from downtown. It was a testament to the in-your-face defense by the hungry Falcons.
"Coach has been preparing us a lot and preparing us really well for the game," shared Ahanmisi. "They've been scouting Ateneo for the last few months. I'm glad we came out with a win."
The Falcons will look to carry their winning momentum onto the next game when they go up against their Final Four opponent last season in the De La Salle Green Archers.
ADAMSON 74 - Ahanmisi 23, Magbuhos 10, Sarr 8, Espeleta 7, Catapusan 7, Lastimosa 6, Manganti 4, Pingoy 3, Mojica 3, Camacho 2, Colonia 1, Bernardo 0
ATENEO 70 - Nieto Ma 21, Verano 10, Ravena 7, Asistio 7, Go 6, Navarro 5, Mendoza 5, Nieto Mi 4, Black 4, Kouame 1, Wong 0, Tio 0, Belangel 0
QUARTER SCORES: 18-20, 40-39, 55-51, 74-70