UAAP: Racela proud as 'other guys' deliver for Adamson

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 05 2022 02:51 PM

Adamson University (ADU) players celebrate after clinching the 4th spot in the UAAP season 85 men's basketball finals in Pasay City on December 4, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Adamson University (ADU) players celebrate after clinching the 4th spot in the UAAP season 85 men's basketball finals in Pasay City on December 4, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines -- Jerom Lastimosa was undoubtedly the hero of Adamson University's conquest of De La Salle University in their knockout game for the last Final 4 spot in UAAP Season 85.

But for head coach Nash Racela, what makes their triumph all the more special is how Lastimosa's supporting cast also came through for him, particularly in crunch time when La Salle's defense was keyed in on their superstar guard. 

"Adamson is Jerom, 'no?" Racela acknowledged after the Soaring Falcons' thrilling 80-76 win over the Green Archers, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena. "Alam naman ng tao 'yun."

"But that's something that we want to somehow change. Kasi basketball is not just an individual game, di ba? It's a team game so we want to put emphasis not just on Jerom but the whole team," he added.

"Now, we won't be in this situation if not for the other guys, that's reality."

Lastimosa erased a 10-point La Salle lead in the third quarter single-handedly, scoring 11 straight points to get the Falcons back in the game. But in the fourth quarter, he deferred to his teammates as La Salle devoted its defense to stopping him.

His teammates didn't let him down: Joem Sabandal knocked down a triple with three minutes left to make it a one-point game, 71-70, and with 90 seconds to go, Lenda Douanga converted a floater that put Adamson ahead for good, 75-74. Lastimosa assisted both baskets. 

Earlier in the fourth quarter, Joshua Yerro scored five straight points for Adamson to keep them afloat while Lastimosa was well-defended.

"Sabi ni coach sa akin noong fourth quarter, noong pinilit ko 'yung isang possession sa offense namin, sinabi niya sa akin na trust your teammates," Lastimosa recalled. "So mga last five minutes, dating sa akin, ako na lang 'yung spot-up. Pinapasa ko na lang sa teammates ko."

"Nagtitiwala ako sa kanila, and may tiwala naman talaga ako sa kanila," said the guard, who finished with 22 points and six assists in the win to earn Player of the Game honors. 

It was still Lastimosa who iced the game, knocking down two clutch free throws with 12 seconds left for a 79-76 lead. It was enough for Adamson to hold on, as La Salle's Evan Nelle forced a contested three-pointer on the other end that hit the side of the backboard. 

For Racela, it was a delight to see Lastimosa take over the game in a different way, after having burned La Salle with his shot-making in the third quarter.

"Sabi ko nga kay Jerom, take over na. Sabi ko, laruin mo na. But nilaro niya ng tama," the coach said. "That's why I'm so happy, kasi nilaro niya nang tama." 

"Other guys really stepped up," Racela stressed. "That's basketball. Hindi talaga isa eh, kailangan rin 'yung iba. That was our main problem at the start of the season… Si Jerom, Jerom, Jerom, wala na." 

"At least now, ibang tao 'yung nagko-contribute. That will help us moving forward."

Adamson's win over La Salle propelled them to the Final 4, where they will face off against the top-seeded Ateneo de Manila University on Wednesday. The Blue Eagles are armed with a twice-to-beat advantage. 

UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.

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