For the first two quarters, the ‘Adamson way of basketball’ that head coach Franz Pumaren had been preaching all season long was nowhere to be seen.
Admittedly playing relaxed early in today’s matchup against cellar-dwelling UE, the Falcons fell into a 3-20 deficit in the opening frame before mustering enough to finish the half at a 40-all deadlock with their foes.
They deservedly heard some words Pumaren at the locker room.
“I gave them some sweet nothings during halftime,” he bared.
“We just came out complacent. I thought we were just gonna dominate them, but I came out flat. I’m just glad we got in back in the second half,” said Sean Manganti, who scored nine points in the second quarter after failing to score in the first.
That sermon must’ve helped. The Falcons’ trademark defense showed in the second half and with their offense clicking at the right time, they outscored the Red Warriors, 45-32, on their way to win #10.
They also stayed in the hunt for that twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.
“Like what I’ve been stressing, we’re not the type of team that you can define as swashbuckling that can blow out teams by 20, 30 points. We’re a hardworking, blue-collar type of a team. We thrive on trying to make the other team really work hard for their points, which showed,” Pumaren explained.
They stuck to their strategy of clamping down on Alvin Pasaol and Philip Manalang’s supporting cast. The two combined for 43 points but received little help elsewhere, with UE’s bench only able to manage four points all game long.
“We started putting pressure on them, we were able to make some stops. We showed the Adamson way of playing defense and playing the right way of basketball,” Pumaren said.
“We were down 17, but when we started putting the heat… I guess that’s our ID, our calling card: tough defense.”
If the team will have any shot at making an impressive run to the finals this year, Adamson will have to stay locked in at all times. Pumaren, who described his team as the type that thrives on tough instruction, knows this more than anyone.
“Sometimes I’m quite disappointed with these guys. I think they love hearing my voice. That’s why I look old already. I’m only 35 but I look 40,” he said in jest. “This is a different type of team. There’s a team that all you have to do is motivate them, there’s a type of team… a classic example is this one, you really have to be hard on them,” Pumaren thought.
“I think they prefer tough love.”
Next Sunday’s game against Far Eastern University should help straighten things out. The Tamaraws are the only team that they have yet to beat this year, and that matchup is a good opportunity for them to head over to the semifinals with all the momentum they can get.
With eight days of rest before jumping back into action, it seems like Pumaren isn’t taking his chances.
“I guess at the back of their minds they really played hard already because our next game will be next Sunday, so for sure it’s gonna be a hell week for them,” he said.
“Let me put it this way. It’s just like seeing me with six glasses of espresso during practice. You should just imagine the caffeine. I’m also going on a diet this week, so you can only imagine that it’s going to be a hell week for them,” the coach laughed.