Tuesday, 22 November 2011 73 Comments
TWO teams that narrowly missed out on the finals of their respective leagues eliminated separate opponents to move up the Luzon-Metro Manila bracket of the 2011 Philippine Collegiate Champions League last November 22 at the Arena in San Juan.
In the first game, the Adamson University Falcons, who fell to the FEU Tamaraws in the UAAP Final Four despite a twice-to-beat advantage, managed to juggle their roster, buck a sluggish start and overcome the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 73-58.
“We’re happy na nanalo kami dito considering na yung ibang players, talagang iniisip na after this, we still have a game. In fact, half of our team, yung core namin, tumakbo na para sa Adamson [Gym],” said head coach Leo Austria after the game. Austria also coaches the Freego Jeans team in the PBA Developmental League, which draws heavily from the Adamson lineup. The match between the Falcons and the Heavy Bombers was moved up by a half-hour to 1:30 p.m to accommodate Freego’s 4 p.m. tip-off in the PBA-DL. Coincidentally, two players from JRU, John Lopez and Jeckster Apinan, play for Freego as well.
Up by a point late in the first quarter, the Falcons conceded a 6-0 run to JRU that put the Season 87 fourth placers up 18-13 after 10 minutes of play. Eight straight by the Falcons in the second period allowed them to retake the lead, 21-20, after charities by Austin Manyara. But a triple by Nate Matute and baskets by Apinan and Raycon Kabigting swung things back in favor of the Heavy Bombers at the close of the first half.
Out of the intermission, it was the combination of Manyara down low and Roider Cabera outside that clicked. Cabrera nailed Adamson’s only two triples of the game that triggered the Falcons’ offensive surge. At the onset of the final quarter, reserve big men Apinan and Ralph Monserat cut the deficit to a deuce, 48-46, only to have the Falcons counter with a run of their own that handed them a 55-49. The game-turning moment came at the 4:14 mark. With the shot clock winding down, Manyara was forced to attempt a triple but got bowled over on the shot by Monserat. Not only did Monserat get whistled for the foul, he was also issued an unsportsmanlike foul for kicking Manyara, giving the Falcons five charities plus possession. The Kenyan big man nailed three of the five freebies before a Kabigting triple managed to cut the lead down to single digits again, 60-52. But, on the next play, Jerick Cañada seemed to have stepped on the halfcourt line after being pressured by his defender. The referees let the play go to the dismay of JRU head coach Vergel Meneses, who was hit with a technical foul. The resulting four points, two from Janus Lozada free throws and two from a Manyara putback of a Cañada miss, padded the lead to 66-52 with 2:24 left in the game. A trio of steals by Allen Etrone further compounded JRU’s woes in the final two minutes.
Manyara top-scored for the Falcons, with 12 of his 16 points coming from the foul line where he missed just three of his 15 attempts. The big man also added nine rebounds and a block off the bench. Janus Lozada stuffed the stat sheet with 14 markers, 11 boards, five assists, three steals and a rejection of his own, while Cañada scored 10 in a starting role. UAAP Mythical Five selection Alex Nuyles did not play in the game despite being dressed while floor general Lester Alvarez logged just nine minutes after sustaining an ankle injury.
JRU got 17 points, seven in the fourth quarter, from Jeckster Apinan, along with six rebounds, two steals and a block. The starting duo of Kabigting and John Villarias combined for 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists. However, the Heavy Bombers turned the ball over 22 times to just 15 for the Falcons, and Adamson was able to score 25 points off those errors thanks in part to a tight zone defense Austria employed to close out the second period and entire second half.
In the other game, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights put an end to De La Salle University’s storybook run in the PCCL with a 66-61 victory in the second match.
The Green Archers, who had won their four previous PCCL matches, took the lead in the first quarter on back-to-back scores by Norbert Torres, and held it for the majority of the first half as three quick fouls on NCAA Mythical Five player Kevin Alas prevented Letran’s offense from getting into a groove.
Down 29-25 at the start of the third period, Alas and rookie forward Kevin Racal set the tone for the quarter as the duo looked to attack the rim repeatedly, combining for a 12-of-14 clip at the line while also neutralizing La Salle’s leading scorers, Joshua Webb and Torres. Down by two, 39-37, another rookie, point guard Mark Cruz, then took over for the Knights. The diminutive ex-Letran Squire scored eight of his team’s last 10 points, all of which came from jump shots. At the same time, Letran held La Salle to just three points in that 3:41 span, wresting away the lead, 47-42.
A triple by Cruz and five more points by Racal kicked off the fourth quarter, helping to extend Letran’s advantage to as much as 11, 61-50 with 5:17 left in the game. But the Green Archers took a page out of their opponents’ playbook and began getting to the foul line as well. A 7-of-8 clip at the stripe, followed by a jumper by Almond Vosotros, all went unanswered, towing De La Salle to within two points with 3:05 remaining. Both sides went silent for a minute and a half after that until a burst of speed by Alas allowed him to beat his man and score on a layup that cushioned the Letran lead, 63-59 at the 1:22 mark. Off a timeout, Torres missed down low, but Vosotros was able to swipe the offensive rebound from Alas. On the break, LA Revilla missed his shot, but the referees could not definitively rule on who touched the leather last, resulting in a jumpball. After losing the initial tip, La Salle quickly tied up Jam Cortes for another jump, which the Knights won again. This time, they found a streaking Alas at the other end of the court. Though he missed the shot, big man Raymond Almazan was there for the put-back with 24 seconds left, cushioning the lead to 65-59 and clinching the game for the Knights.
Racal and Alas both scored 14 points each. Cruz added 10 points, five boards, two assists and two steals, while Almazan, another Mythical Five selection and the Most Improved Player of the Year for 2011, hauled down 17 boards and blocked seven shots in 29 minutes. “I think the key was our rebounding,” said their head coach Louie Alas, after the game. “[Because of that] we were able to stop their transition [game].”
La Salle, which is currently retooling with a new head coach in Gee Abanilla, was led by the 16 points and nine rebounds of Torres. Jovet Mendoza, who stepped up when the other Green Archer big men fell to foul trouble, added nine points and seven boards, while the backcourt of Vosotros and Revilla had eight each.
The Adamson Falcons advance to play the runners-up of the NCAA, the San Sebastian Stags, at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 24, while the Letran Knights play the UAAP second-placers, the FEU Tamaraws, at 3:30 p.m. on the same day. It’ll be a tough game for the Knights, though, as both Kevin and Louie Alas are departing for Los Angeles tomorrow, November 23, as Kevin will be training for a month with the ABA’s LA Slam.
Adamson 73 – Manyara 16, Lozada 14, Cañada 10, Colina 8, Camson 7, Cabrera 6, Etrone 4, Brondial 4, Manuel 2, Alvarez 2, Olalia 0, Petilos 0, Rios 0, Monteclaro 0, Agustin 0
JRU 58 – Apinan 17, Kabigting 13, Villarias 10, Monserat 4, Lopez 4, Matute 3, Almario 3, Paniamogan 2, Mendoza 2, Tiongco 0, Montemayor 0
Quarter scoring: 13-18, 25-27, 48-40, 73-58
Second game -
Letran 66 – Racal 14, K. Alas 14, Cruz 11, Almazan 10, Cortes 6, Lituania 5, Gabawan 2, Espiritu 2, Pantin 2, Belorio 0, J. Alas 0
De La Salle 61 – Torres 16, Mendoza 9, Vosotros 8, Revilla 8, Tampus 6, Webb 6, Marata 4, Paredes 3, Gotladera 1
Quarter scoring: 13-15, 25-29, 47-42, 66-61