THE Adamson Soaring Falcons boosted their Final Four push in Season 79 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), getting the better of erstwhile streaking Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 61-59, in opening action yesterday at the Fil-Oil Arena in San Juan City.
Getting steady performances from Sean Manganti and Robbie Manalang, the Falcons improved to 6-5 with the win and just need one more victory in their last three games to formalize their entry into the semifinals while halting the winning streak of the defending champions Tamaraws to seven.
Manganti and Manalang conspired for 17 points in the second quarter to rally their team back after a slow start and narrow their deficit to just two points at the end of the of the first half, 32-30.
The two teams would go back and forth in the second half but the Falcons would get more contributions than the Tamaraws as the game wore to get their head above water.
Raymar Jose would put FEU in a position to snatch a win as he narrowed Adamson’s lead to just one point, 60-59, with 29 seconds left.
In the succeeding play Adamson failed to connect on offense, giving the Tamaraws another chance at the win with time at 3.8 seconds.
But FEU squandered the opportunity as Monbert Arong was called for a traveling violation as he tried to drive to the lane.
Manganti would seal the win by connecting on his first free throw off an FEU foul before missing the second on purpose as time expired.
Manganti finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists to earn player of the game honors while Manalang had 12 points.
Jonathan Espeleta had eight points, six in the payoff period, to give the Falcons a big shot in the arm.
FEU was led by Jose who ended up with a game-high 16 points and nine rebounds. Apart from him, however, no other Tamaraw scored in double figures.
Another win by Adamson will secure for them a Final Four spot, joining the already qualified De La Salle Green Archers (12-1), Tamaraws (8-3) and Ateneo Blue Eagles (7-4).
Still trying to latch on to the last semifinal spot as of this writing are the National University Bulldogs (5-8) and University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons (4-8).