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Falcons nip Tamaraws


Games Wednesday
(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – FEU vs Ateneo
4 p.m. – Adamson vs UST

The Final Four ambition of the young and inconsistent Adamson Falcons is well within reach after stopping the winning run of one of college basketball’s premier teams.

Needing a key defensive stop in the endgame, the Falcons scuttled the last-gasp rally of the defending champion Far Eastern University Tamaraws to escape with a 61-59 victory yesterday in the UAAP basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.

Adamson was facing the prospect of losing a 58-51 lead with over two minutes remaining when FEU, led by Raymar Jose, closed to 60-59 with only 3.8 seconds left on the game clock.

But the Falcons’ Sean Manganti and Simon Camacho forced a driving Monbert Arong to slip and was subsequently called for a traveling infraction with half and second remaining, virtually ending the Tamaraws’ seven-game winning streak.

Adamson, which improved to 6-5, needs one more win to complete the Final Four cast in the first year of multi-titled coach Franz Pumaren with three games left in the eliminations.

The Falcons, who last made the Final Four in 2011, will face struggling University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“Our destiny is in our hands, we just have to play a good last three games, or if there’s a thing as a great last three games,” said Pumaren.

Manganti, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, paid tribute to its team’s work ethic in the days leading up to perhaps its biggest win of the season.

“We deserved it,” Manganti said. “We prepared really hard and we were really focused coming into this game.”

Jose finished with 16 points and nine rebounds but the Tamaraws fell to 8-3, their hold of second spot reduced to just one game after the 7-4 Ateneo Blue Eagles stunned the erstwhile undefeated La Salle Green Archers a day earlier.

FEU and Ateneo face off on Wednesday.

University of the Philippines, in sixth place at 4-8, was playing UST at presstime, needing a victory to put more pressure on Adamson and also tie National University for fifth.

The scores:
ADAMSON 61 – Manganti 14, Manalang 12, Espeleta 8, Sarr 6, Bernardo 6, Tungcab 5, Ahanmisi 4, Mustre 4, Ochea 2, Camacho 0, Paranada 0, Chua 0, Ng 0.

FEU 59 – Jose 16, Tuffin 8, Arong 7, Inigo 6, Orizu 5, Trinidad 5, Dennison 4, Comboy 3, Roxas 3, Escoto 2, Bayquin 0, Ebona 0, Holmqvist 0, Denila 0.

Quarters: 9-17; 30-32; 46-44; 61-59.