MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Adamson University is still alive in the race for the UAAP Season 85 Final 4, thanks to the clutch heroics of Jerom Lastimosa.
Lastimosa shook off a poor shooting afternoon to sink the go-ahead three-pointer with 5.5 seconds left, lifting the Soaring Falcons to a 64-63 victory over National University on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
It was only the second field goal of the day for the Adamson point guard, who earlier missed a pair of three-pointers inside the final 38 seconds that allowed National U to stay ahead by a slim margin. But third time was the charm for Lastimosa, who finished with seven points, five rebounds, and two assists in 28 minutes.
With the result, Adamson improved to 7-6 in UAAP Season 85; they are now in fourth place in the league standings. Their win puts pressure on the De La Salle Green Archers, who must beat the University of the East in their game later to force a tie.
"Every game to us is a do or die game. That's the mentality that we have going into every game -- kailangan manalo, manalo, manalo, to stay alive," Adamson coach Nash Racela said after the game.
Before Lastimosa's big shot finished the job, Lenda Douanga carried the load for Adamson. The big man anchored a 13-2 run to end the third quarter that put the Soaring Falcons in control, 53-48. But the Bulldogs fought back behind Steve Nash Enriquez, whose difficult turnaround jumper over Lastimosa knotted the count at 61 with still 1:29 to play.
A split at the line by Enriquez with 54.3 seconds gave NU a 62-61 lead, and the Bulldogs appeared headed for a slim win after Lastimosa misfired on two attempts from long distance. But Enriquez blew an opportunity to ice the game when he made just one of two free throws for a 63-61 count with 18.6 seconds to go.
That gave Adamson enough time to go for the win, with Lastimosa receiving a hand-off from Douanga before rising for the game-winning triple.
"Alam ko na 'yung dalawang tira ko is hindi siya pumasok, but I never give up sa last shot. So, I think deserve ko naman mangyari 'yun kasi pina-practice ko talaga every day. Hindi lang every day, every morning lunch, dinner," said Lastimosa.
NU still had a chance to go for the win, but Enriquez's three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.
Douanga earned Player of the Game honors with 16 points and six rebounds. Didat Hanapi added nine points, and Adamson overcame a 47-27 rebounding deficit to win the contest.
Enriquez finished the game with 18 points and four assists, while Jake Figueroa contributed 13 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists. Omar John battled through foul trouble with 10 points and seven rebounds.
It was a costly defeat for the Bulldogs, who finished with a 9-5 record in the elimination round. They are still assured of a place in the Final 4, but their chances of securing a twice-to-beat advantage in the semis were severely dented by the result.
NU will have to hope that Ateneo de Manila University drops its last two elimination round games in order to force a playoff. The Bulldogs enter the Final 4 having lost their last two games.
ADAMSON 64 -- Douanga 16, Hanapi 9, Manlapaz 8, Lastimosa 7, Yerro 4, Sabandal 4, Fuentebella 3, Jaymalin 3, Colonia 2, Barcelona 2, Manzano 2, Barasi 2, V. Magbuhos 2, Flowers 0, Torres 0.
NU 63 -- Enriquez 18, Figueroa 13, John 10, Malonzo 7, Clemente 5, Tibayan 4, Yu 2, Palacielo 2, Manansala 1, Galinato 1, Minerva 0, Mahinay 0, Tulabut 0.
Quarters: 18-14, 33-36, 53-48, 64-63.