UST's Kevin Ferrer (C) challenges for the loose ball against Adamson's Axel Inigo (L) and Jessie Pedrosa (R). Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Adamson head coach Kenneth Duremdes rued the late-game breakdowns that led to the Soaring Falcons' heart-breaking 49-50 loss to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in the UAAP men's basketball tournament on Saturday.
"UST did not win the game," Duremdes told reporters, "We gave it to them."
The Falcons, certainly the underdogs against a veteran UST squad, took a surprising lead at the half and were still leading in the final period when their offense deserted them.
"It just so happened that we scored only four points (in the fourth quarter), but we gave only 10 points also, most of it coming from the free throws at the end of the game," said Duremdes.
The Falcons led 49-45 with a little over five minutes to go but failed to score another point, and worse, repeatedly sent the Tigers to the line. The game-winning free throw came from Kent Lao, who made the second of a pair of charities with 1.1 seconds to go to save the Tigers from a huge upset.
"That's the difference," said Duremdes. "Nagbigay kami ng another possession on their free throws… Dalawa ang missed free throws ng UST, and another possession ang binigay namin through offensive rebound, then a foul."
"Nag-miss ulit, and nagbigay na naman kami ng offensive rebound," he added. "Masakit lang na naulit. Within 30 seconds, naulit 'yung nangyari, so that really hurts the team. Ang effort, sayang. At the last moment, we gave up."
Duremdes did note that his team got off to a good start and that his players followed their game plan, which was "to play UST possession by possession and to delay their execution."
Although they lost the game, Duremdes said the team has improved considerably especially as they lost their first two games by a margin of more than 20 points each.
"We're happy about it, and the boys are responding now to what we're doing," he said. "They're starting to believe in the system that we're giving to them, and the improvement that we're looking for them is, kahit papaano, unti-unti andoon na."
"But again, kulang pa rin," he stressed. "Kulang pa rin. The positive thing is they're responding right now to what we're doing."