ADAM­SON UNIVER­SITY FAL­CONS

ADAM­SON UNIVER­SITY TURNED THE PROVER­BIAL COR­NER WITH MUCH GUSTO IN SEA­SON 73, LEAP­ING TO ITS FIRST FI­NAL FOUR BERTH SINCE 2006 AND BURY­ING ALL THE GHOSTS OF BLOWN ENDGAMES AND CHOKE JOBS THE CAM­PAIGN BE­FORE. A RUN­NER-UP FIN­ISH IN THE COL­LE­GIATE CHAM­PI­ONS

Rebound Magazine - - UAAP PREVIEW - by Chris­tian D. Soler

Coach Leo Aus­tria found an an­ti­dote to the last-minute mishaps of 2009 in Lester Al­varez and Alex Nuyles. Al­varez (9.5 PPG, league-best 86.7 FT%) grabbed the start­ing point guard spot from Jer­ick Cañada and didn’t dis­ap­point, dis­play­ing lead­er­ship and poise in the clutch. Aus­tria ex­pects even more from his play­maker in 2011, say­ing, “I need to see him step up in knock­out games, not just in the elim­i­na­tions.” Nuyles (team-high 12.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG) has grown into a po­tent of­fen­sive op­tion, com­ple­ment­ing his slash­ing abil­ity with a re­spectable mid-range jumper. He’ll swing from the two and three spots with de­fen­sive spe­cial­ist Janus Lozada.

The cen­ter po­si­tion was the Fal­cons’ sore spot in 2010. Kenyan slot­man Austin Man­yara (3.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 31.7 FG%) strug­gled and un­der­whelmed in his UAAP de­but. While Mike Gali­nato’s de­par­ture won’t be missed, there’s pres­sure on Man­yara to de­liver as his build and ath­letic abil­ity aren’t easy to find. The ever-re­li­able Jan Colina’s num­bers took a hit, but the Ce­buano power for­ward re­mains a fo­cal point in Adam­son’s scheme be­cause of his re­bound­ing prow­ess and post and el­bow reper­toire.

Bench

Cañada didn’t fuss over los­ing the start­ing job and was ar­guably the league’s most ef­fec­tive back-up play­maker, lead­ing the team in as­sists (2.9) de­spite play­ing just above 17 min­utes a game. Much-im­proved power for­ward Eric Cam­son (9.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG) came off the bench in all but one game and en­sured there wouldn’t be a drop-off when­ever his num­ber was called. His ag­gres­sive­ness and

abil­ity to sink the 15-foot jumper makes him an in­valu­able part of the ro­ta­tion. Fel­low thirdyear team­mate Roi­der Cabr­era (21.2 3PT%) is a threat from be­yond the arc but needs to be more con­sis­tent with his snip­ing.

Rod­ney Bron­dial proved to be a rev­e­la­tion in Adam­son’s ex­cit­ing run in the 2010 PCCL, where he av­er­aged 6.8 points and 1.8 blocks in six games. He’s more than an in­surance pol­icy should Man­yara flop be­cause of his wing­span and work ethic. Ex-Per­pet­ual Help Alta Harry Peti­los is a swing­man be­ing eyed by Aus­tria to re­place Will Stin­nett. Look for sopho­mores Allen Etrone and Ryan Mon­teclaro to get more burn in the two and one spots, re­spec­tively.

Coach­ing

Aus­tria is one of the game’s pure tac­ti­cal ge­niuses. His abil­ity to adapt to the op­po­si­tion, switch de­fenses on the fly and make ingame de­ci­sions that his play­ers can eas­ily com­pre­hend and sub­se­quently ex­e­cute make him an in­dis­pens­able part of the Fal­con fab­ric.

The 53-year-old strate­gist has got­ten his troops to em­brace a self­less, team-first attitude. In Sea­son 73, no Fal­con av­er­aged more than 28 min­utes a game while the squad dom­i­nated al­most all hus­tle cat­e­gories, lead­ing the league in steals and turnovers forced while al­low­ing the least num­ber of sec­ond-chance points. In fact, one of the things Aus­tria aimed to ad­dress in the pre­sea­son was some of his play­ers’ pen­chant to put them­selves be­fore the team. “Some of them were able to play in the PBA D-League, and that was the rea­son why they had that ten­dency to think they were al­ready stars. I had to watch out for that,” he says in Ta­ga­log.

In­tan­gi­bles

There’s un­doubt­edly a lot of tal­ent across the board in San Marcelino. But is it enough to get the Fal­cons over the hump in 2011? Aus­tria has the­o­rized time and again over the sum­mer. “I look at my team and see the po­ten­tial. If we play the way we did in the PCCL, and even in the Fr. Martin [Open] Cup, where we won nine straight be­fore los­ing a knock­out game, there’s a big chance we’ll land in the Fi­nal Four. My goal is to get to the top three,” he as­serts.

With Al­varez, Cañada and Colina all play­ing out their fi­nal year in Sea­son 74, there’s added pres­sure to go for the jugu­lar, which en­tails beat­ing Ate­neo, some­thing Adam­son hasn’t done since 1997.

Out­look

The Fal­cons have the lineup to du­pli­cate the suc­cess of 2010. But the top is get­ting more crowded, so the mar­gin for er­ror is much smaller.

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