THE Adamson Falcons played with energy and poise not seen before in any of their games, got off to a great start and never let go of a sizeable lead they established in the first period, to trounce the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 105-85, yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It was a rousing debut for new coach Franz Pumaren and his assistants Renren Ritualo and Don Allado, who are trying their hands at coaching, as the Soaring Falcons went on to post the rousing victory at the start of the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament.
Meanwhile, the Ateneo Blue Eagles gave new coach Tab Baldwin a fitting welcome, striking hard with their outside shooting in the second half to break away from a 34-all halftime and into a 73-69 victory over the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.
Aaron Black led with 21 points and nine rebounds for the Blue Eagles, who posted a 64-53 edge in the last six minutes off two triples by Anton Asistio.
Eighteen-year-old spitfire Jerick Ahanmisi, a recruit from Los Angeles, California, overcame opening day jitters, to score a game-high 28 points for the Soaring Falcons.
The 6’1” Ahanmisi, brother of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters rookie guard Maverick Ahanmisi, shot 13 points for the Soaring Falcons in the first half as they took charge, 46-38.
“I was excited to play my first game. I had some jitters,” said Ahanmisi. The Falcons forced the Fighting Maroons to 12 turnovers to lead by as much as 11 points in the first half.
Veteran Falcon Papi Sarr hit six of his 13 points in the first half. He dominated the boards with seven of 11 rebounds for the Soaring Falcons, who were up, 28-18, at the end of the first period.
The Falcons relied on the fullcourt press which Pumaren employed when he was still coach of the La Salle Green Archers from 1998 to 2005.
The Falcons played like never before. They played a faster game with more outside shooting and less penetrations. They displayed an intensity never seen before in an Adamson team.
“Yes. It’s nice to be back here. It’s been awhile. This is one game that I was worried about because there’s gonna be a lot of jitters especially with the young guys. You know, it showed a bit,” said Pumaren.
Ahanmisi and Sarr joined hands for 11 points as the Falcons moved further away, 55-40, at the start of the third, before back-to-back triples from Ahanmisi gave them a 61-43 edge with 5:24 to go in the quarter.
After a triple from UP’s Jet Manuel cut Adamson’s lead to 14, Adamson unleashed another scorching run.
This time, a triple from Harold Ng, Frederick Pasturan’s jumper, rookie Sean Manganti drive pushed the Falcons up by 21, 73-52, in the last 1:01 of the period.