For Adamson, beating Ateneo twice can be quite ambitious.
But they’re confident that it’s a matter of finding where the first-rate Blue Eagles could be most vulnerable.
Jerom Lastimosa and the Falcons earned the right to face the Eagles in the Final Four after downing La Salle, 80-76, in their knockout encounter on Sunday night in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament.
“It’s been four years since we’ve entered the Final Four. We are here, so this is a big opportunity. Our goal is to beat Ateneo twice,’’ said Lastimosa after firing 11 of his 22 points in a crucial stretch in the third quarter that turned everything to Adamson’s favor.
The Falcons will have their hands, or claws, full since the Eagles own two convincing wins over them in the elimination round.
“Ateneo is hard to beat, but they are beatable. We’re actually gate-crashing the Final Four. People didn’t expect us to be here,’’ said Adamson coach Nash Racela.
In one corner of the Mall of Asia Arena was Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin, intently watching both teams battle it out.
The Blue Eagles possess a twice-to-beat edge and can immediately progress to the best-of-three championship with a victory on Wednesday.
“We’re happy that the team did its part in this situation. But we have to check our emotions, we want to be on a high. There’s still work that we have to do on Wednesday and next weekend,’’ said Racela.
Evan Nelle was a sorry sight after his turnaround attempt from the arc completely missed the target that could have forced extra time, sending the Archers out of the semifinal picture for good.
The Archers again missed the services of three key players—Kevin Quiambao, Michael Phillips and Schonny Winston—their absence easily denying La Salle the firepower it badly needed in a no-tomorrow matchup.
Winston, La Salle’s marvelous shooting guard, has been waiting for his calf injury to fully heal while forwards Quiambao and Phillips remained at sickbay without any assurance when they could suit up.
Winding up No. 2 after the elimination phase, defending champion University of the Philippines faces third-ranked National University in the other semis pairing with the Fighting Maroons needing only a victory for a return trip to the Finals.
The Archers were hot with nine threes early, building a 10-point bubble going back to the dugout at the half.
Nelle and Mark Nonoy had four triples each and big man Benjamin Phillips managed to uncharacteristically sink three of his own from afar.
But games, normally, aren’t decided in the first half as the Falcons reversed the trend through the heroics of Lastimosa in the third.
“We’re down by 10, but I told my teammates that it’s not yet the end. I can really feel that this game will be ours,’’ said Lastimosa. INQ
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