source: Jasmine W. Payo | Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA—So many things feel new for the Adamson Falcons this season.
Overwhelmed by the building excitement over his team, coach Leo Austria said the passionate support has all the more fueled the Falcons’ drive in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
“It’s very unusual, we’re not used to this atmosphere in Adamson,” admitted Austria.
“This is the first time that this is happening in Adamson, that everyone’s enthusiastic about the game. Many in our community order their tickets early until no tickets are available. I think the doubt on our team is no longer there. The energy that the crowd gives is different.”
Indeed, the Falcons had a doormat phase for over a decade before a recent resurgence under Austria.
Powered by a veteran cast led by Alex Nuyles, Eric Camson, Lester Alvarez and Jerick Cañada, the Falcons reached the Final Four for the second straight season.
But for the first time, the Falcons secured the twice-to-beat advantage after finishing second in the eliminations with a 10-4 record.
The Falcons—boosted by their stunning rout 62-46 of erstwhile unbeaten Atene—aim to finish off Far Eastern University in their Final Four duel at 3 p.m. today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A victory will propel the Falcons to the championship round for the first time since 1992.
“I think our players now are starting to believe that we are capable of winning the championship,” said Austria. “When we won against Ateneo, it’s a big statement that if we play as a team, we’ll go far.”
Victory worth retelling
The Falcons, though, aren’t too hung up over their phenomenal triumph against the three-time champions. But that victory will always be worth retelling as Adamson accomplished more than just an upset.
Adamson snapped its 29-game losing skid that spanned 14 years against Ateneo, which the Falcons last defeated on Sept. 18, 1997 with a 54-52 decision.
Moreover, the Falcons spoiled the Blue Eagles’ bid of a historic 14-game sweep and an outright title berth, while securing the No. 2 spot and the last semifinal bonus.
“We really told coach that this might be our time,” said Nuyles, the 6-foot-2 high-flyer who’s projected to land a spot in this year’s Mythical Team.
“God has been so good to us that he gave the win that we were wishing for,” said Austria.
“It was overwhelming. The players were very emotional. I told them that whatever happens, they’re already in Adamson’s history. They’re leaving a good legacy in Adamson.”
But of course, the Falcons know that their job is far from over. A championship remains the ultimate goal.
“I reminded them that we’re still not assured of a slot in the Finals,” said Austria. “But if we’re lucky, it will be a big achievement.
“We’ve developed a system for three years. We’ve been together the past three years doing this system, so we just have to stick to that.”
And they will ride all that positive vibe as they try to bring the title to their campus.