By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles booked another UAAP men’s basketball tournament grand finals ticket after crushing the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 81-60, during their Final Four clash last December 7, 2022.
Entering the matchup with a twice-to-beat advantage, the Tab Baldwin-led squad didn’t let Adamson capture any momentum in the game and placed more emphasis on their perimeter defense.
And yes, a part of those defensive schemes was stopping Adamson’s superstar and main gunner Jerom Lastimosa who was only held for 10 points in the whole course of the game.
It was all Ateneo since the first quarter as their waxing-hot shooting helped them establish a quick lead led by Forthsky Padrigao who knocked down some early open looks from downtown.
Despite Adamson running their signature two-man pick-and-roll game between Lastimosa and Lenda Douanga, the Soaring Falcons still couldn’t register some points as they did during their last three outings.
One big factor that also shut down Adamson’s pick-and-roll game was how coach Baldwin adjusted his defense in the second half by deploying aggressive shows instead of going under Douanga’s screens.
Ateneo sent in the early exclamation point in the third quarter when the trio of Kouame, Dave Ildefonso, and Chris Koon spearheaded the Blue Eagles’ 19-0 run to end the third period.
By the time the last 10 minutes began, Ateneo already had a 27-point lead, 63-36, which made it hard for the Soaring Falcons to chip away and cut the deficit.
Padrigao had a stellar outing against Adamson and delivered 16 points and five assists while the sweet-shooting leftie guard Koon buried four of his five total attempts from downtown to end up with 15 points.
With the win, the Blue Eagles set up a UAAP grand finals rematch against the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons that earlier taken down the National University (NU) Bulldogs, 69-61.
Their best-of-three UAAP grand finals will begin on December 11 and to be held at the Mall of Asia Arena.