It was a scene worth featuring on National Geographic: three falcons swooping on a hapless tiger.
Adamson coach Franz Pumaren let loose his trademark trapping defense against the UST Growling Tigers, as his Soaring Falcons earned a 79-71 win Saturday in UAAP Season 81. The victory pushed the Falcons on top of the men’s tournament team standings with a perfect 3-0 card.
After every made basket, the Falcons perched into their defensive positions to deny UST guards Marvin Lee and Enzo Subido an easy path to their half court. The Espana-based squad yielded the ball 27 times, with the Adamson defenders shadowing the UST ball handlers and forcing them to issue hurried passes. With every wasted UST offensive possession, Adamson took advantage with 29 turnover points.
Pumaren took pride on his team’s conditioning – an aspect that is vital in running virtually 40 minutes of the full court press. Since his days with the De La Salle Green Archers, the “nightmare press” has been the weapon of choice for the five-time UAAP champion coach.
“They are asking pa nga kung puwede pa silang tumakbo e. That’s a validation on how we prepared during the off-season. If you look at my history as a college coach, I don’t think there’s even one incident that one of my players suffered cramps. Credit to our conditioning coaches,” said Pumaren.
“We know how to pace our players. It’s a very long season. We’re still trying to make sure that come game time, everyone’s ready.”
UST coach Aldin Ayo tried every trick in the book to counter Adamson’s press. Also a firm believer of the full court press — his own version aptly named “Mayhem” from his coaching stints in Letran and De La Salle — Ayo fell short of solving Pumaren’s famed defensive scheme. His guards simply succumbed to the pressure laid down by the pesky Falcons.
According to Ayo, “Nag-iisip ako paano i-break ‘yung press. We did that, kaya lang ‘yung decision-making kapag nakita ‘yung press, nawawala. ‘Yung mga beterano kapag andiyan ‘yung press, mas gusto nila. Kapag mga rookies, biglang natataranta na. Kapag kasi ‘yung press pumasok na sa utak mo, nagkaka-problema ka na eh.”
In the fourth period, the Tigers stymied the pressure with a stack formation on every inbound underneath the Adamson. It eased off the pressure from the UST playmakers, enabling them to successfully cross the half court line. The Black-and-Gold squad, though, fell short of their rally in the fourth quarter, conceding their second defeat of the season.
“Good thing na we were able to overcome it nung fourth quarter, nung nag-run kami. The problem is nung nag-sink in na sa amin ‘yung pagod, ‘yung kailangan namin mag-rotate and we had to put the rookies in, dun kami nagka-problema. Pero I’m confident with my rookies. I’ll stick with them and we’ll make sure na mag-grow sila dito sa experience na ‘to,” Ayo said.