By Jerome Lagunzad
2 p.m. – Ateneo vs UST
4 p.m. – La Salle vs NU
A second straight trip to the UAAP Final Four round is already within reach, but Adamson coach Franz Pumaren is still thinking big – whether they can claim a twice-to-beat advantage or not.
“Right now our focus is just to win the next two games,” he said, moments after Adamson repeated over National University, 90-77, last Sunday night to gain at least a playoff for the third semifinals berth.
It was also the second straight – and eighth overall victory – in 12 starts for Adamson, which remains at third spot but still trails defending champion La Salle (10-2) by two full games for the remaining semis incentive.
Adamson plunges back to action on Sunday against Final Four hopeful University of the Philippines then wraps up its elimination round campaign against host Far Eastern University on Nov. 11, a pair of matches which Pumaren believes a must-win.
“We don’t have in our hands if we’re gonna land at No. 2. But what’s important is we win the next two games,” he said. “At least coming into the Final Four, we’ll enter on a winning note. I’ll be a hypocrite if I tell you that I’m not aiming for the next two games, that we need to win.”
Of course, Pumaren intends to see the Soaring Falcons cover all the bases since they’ve been trying to address their pressing issues, especially in closing out games on a strong note.
Against an NU side missing top forward Matt Salem due to dengue, Adamson immediately went for the kill and built a lead as high of 28 points but still needed some timely buckets from Jerrick Ahanmisi and several stops down the stretch to prevent what was shaping up a big meltdown.
“At this stage in time, we’re not that good of a team to relax,” stressed Pumaren. “They should remember that we got that lead because of us staying within the course, because of us playing what we’re supposed to do, doing the system that we’ve been applying for the last two years.
“But when we tend to drift away, when we tend to let our egos get involved, we start relaxing on defense, that will happen. We’re just lucky that we got the win.”
Even though Cameroon center Papi Sarr hauled down a game-high 12 rebounds, the Soaring Falcons were still outrebounded by the Bulldogs 38-41, something that Pumaren admitted is “a cause for concern.”
Still, complacency, more than anything else, remains as Adamson’s biggest foe, added Pumaren. “We just have to be a little bit smarter than that. That can’t happen going into the end game – us relaxing. In college basketball right now, it’s unpredictable. Teams can come back even if they’re down quite big,” he said.