UAAP Season 74 Outlook: AdU Soaring Falcons

(image from the Adamson Soaring Falcons's FaceBook page)

Will the Falcons exorcise the demons of the past seasons, or struggle through another tour of disappointment?

Filoil Results:
AdU lost to FEU, 61-66
AdU over UE, 70-61
AdU over UP, 65-57
AdU over CSJL, 75-50
AdU over EAC, 57-54
AdU over CSB, 75-61
AdU over MIT, 66-60
AdU lost to JRU, 81-84
AdU over SSC, 90-81
AdU lost to SBC, 78-82
AdU lost to FEU, 57-65
7 wins & 4 losses

Who's gone?
Michael Galinato & Will Stinnett
They're not exactly the cornerstones of coach Leo Austria's gameplan, but with their departure, Adamson loses two sizable bodies who could at least bump heads on defense. In addition, there aren't any blue-chippers who will take their place in the rotation, so Austria will have to make do with erstwhile cold reserves like Rodney Brondial, Allen Etrone, and Jeff Olalia. Not the best way to end seasons of futility, eh?

Which Falcons will sing their Swan Song?
Lester Alvarez, Jerick Cañada, Jan Colina & Janus Lozada
All four are in their final year of eligibility, and Austria will count on all of them to bring out their darned best in Season 74. To the best of my knowledge, all four were present in the roster since Season 70, when Adamson won a paltry 2 games. The Falcons then improved to 3 wins in Season 71, 5 wins in Season 72 and then eventually cracking the Final Four with 9 wins last year. It has been an uphill battle, but one that has proven to be gradually rewarding. All four would love nothing more than to cap their UAAP careers with a title (and finally winning over the Blue Eagles I'm sure).

Jerick "Air" Cañada is one-half of Adamson's
elite PG tandem.
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Alvarez and Cañada still make up one of the best, if not THE best, PG combos in all of college ball. Alvarez is the designated shooter who can slide to the off-guard position and Cañada is the more pure playmaker and slasher. It's a wicked pairing that Austria will surely maximize, as he should. 

Colina and Lozada are two peculiar PFs in the game. At 6'3" it would be logical to expect them to bang down low, grab boards left and right, and stuff it strong, but they're just not like that. Colina has some body-banging moments, but by-and-large both are spot-up-shooters who prefer being fed the ball from mid-range rather than posting up. They're Adamson's versions of... ummm... Donyell Marshall. Both combined for just 6.2rpg last season while Eric Camson alone grabbed about 6.5 a game. Needless to say, if they want their last season to be positively memorable, then they'll have to mix it up a little bit more. 

Who NEEDS to break out?
Roider Cabrera & Austin Manyara
Both these players are tall and lanky, but soft. Something tells me Adamson is trying to copy the templates of UST & FEU -- lengthy, long-limbed forwards who play the wings instead of the post (Anthony Espiritu, Khasim Mirza, JR Cawaling and Paul Sanga come to mind). The Falcons, though, seem unable to translate that template into stardom. Both Cabrera and Manyara love shooting it from mid-rang to long-range, which is not bad, but guys their size should also be able to go down the trenches and take names. Rico Maierhoffer is a great example of that. Ditto with Arwind Santos. Austria has been able to recruit the physical specimens, but the skills have failed to develop as far ahead as he probably would've wanted. Cabrera averaged nearly 4 attempts from downtown last season, making only 21%. Manyara, for his part, shot just 31% from 2-point area and a laughable 42% from the stripe. Those numbers are nowhere near what Adamson fans want. Like Colina and Lozada, this peculiar pair of bigs will have to be reinvented.

Can seasoned veterans like Eric Camson finally
lead the Falcons to the promised land?
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)
What will help them?
Experience, Keeping the Ball, & Defense
We already know who the four 5th years are (see above), and we should also know that athletic swingman Alex Nuyles is in his 4th year already. Along with 3rd years Cabrera, Camson and Olalia, that's the core for the Adamson Falcons. That's experience. That's several seasons' worth of frustration and coming-up-short -- of hard lessons on the hardwood. If Adamson seeks to make a really serious push for the UAAP crown, these cagers will have to apply everything they've learned to finally get over the proverbial hump. More than anyone, Alex Nuyless will enjoy the spotlight, and burden, of leadership here. If he proves up to the task, then maybe, just maybe, the Falcons can really soar.

A wonderful thing Adamson did reveal over the summer was that they could take really good care of the basketball. They committed a Filoil-league-leading 14 TOs a game, while forcing 17.2 on their opponents. Those are promising stats for the San Marcelino faithful as the Falcons will need all the possessions they can get to maximize their potential. Again, kudos to coach Austria and the terrific tandem of Alvarez and Cañada for this bright facet.

If there is one thing Austin Manyara can do particularly well, it's blocking shots. He rejected 2 a game over the summer, helping the Falcons tie for 2nd in the league in blocked shots per game with the NU Bulldogs. Manyara anchors Adamson's good interior D, and he should clean up possible mistakes from his wingmen if opposing slashers get a beeline to the basket. Coach Austria's wards also played good defense in the Filoil wars, limiting their foes to just 65.5ppg, good for 3rd in the tourney behind FEU and Ateneo. If they manage to play consistently hard-nosed D, then every game can be a potential W for them.

What will make it difficult?
Anemic Shooting, The Hump, & Feeling the Crunch
The Falcons shot just 37.6% from the field during the Filoil league -- almost dead last among UAAP teams, if not for UST's pathetic 32%. They'll need to be more accurate, especially since they tend to fall in love with the jumper. Aside from Camson, Adamson doesn't really have an in-your-face low-post threat, so they might want to practice shooting at least 10,000 shots each day to sharpen their artillery's sights.

In the past 4 seasons, Adamson won only 4 times against the perennial top-level programs (AdMU, DLSU & FEU). They've never beaten the Eagles in the past 16 years (I think), and by all indications, if they don't pull it off this year, it'll be a loooong time before they have another good chance to do so. Perhaps this speaks of the Falcons' mental toughness. Sure, they've beaten Ateneo in other leagues, but not when it counts the most. They've dashed the Archers and the Tamaraws as well, but not on the biggest stage (Final Four). The window of opportunity is closing and they have to will themselves to, again, get over the hump this season.

One reason why Adamson has experienced so much frustration in the past years is because they have been known to fade during crunchtime. Consider these numbers:

-The Falcons averaged 15.3 4th-quarter points in 15 games last season.
-In their 9 wins, that number spiked to 16.7, but in their losses, it dipped to just 14.0.
-That's a difference of 2.7 points, or about 3 points, between the losses and the wins.
-And how many losses were decided by 3 points? Three (1 against FEU and 2 against Ateneo, although the 1st round encounter was supposedly marred by terrible officiating).

The Falcons feel the crunch and have difficulty adjusting, especially, again, against the top-tier squads. Maybe coach Austria should hire a zen master or yoga expert to help his boys temper their nerves.

The window of opportunity is closing fast
for Alex Nuyles and friends.
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Will they make the FInal Four?
Inside Track
Despite all their flaws, the Falcons should still make the semifinals this season. They will still probably lose out to the other top teams, but their experience should carry them through. One thing I failed to mention was how dedicated and well-prepared their coach is. If not for Austria, I don't think Adamson would even be in the Final Four conversation. He's done so much with relatively so little, and it would be a great sight to see a hefty amount of good karma come his way.

I'm seeding them as
#3 -- NU and DLSU will be tough challenges for Adamson, and I wouldn't put it past some of the lower-seeded teams to upset the Falcons, but, at least on paper, and based on their seasonal upward trend, Austria's boys should end up #3, where they could face either the Tams or the Eagles. And then we'll see what they're really made of.

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7 Comment

tough call at #3. its a mix up between adu, dlsu and nu. getting that W will be a free-for-all when any of these 3 teams mix it up.


sobrang tough drei. objectively speaking any of the top 5 teams (those you mentioned + feu & admu) can mix it up in the final 4 eh. but IF i had to pick an odd man out, i'd still go with my gut and choose NU


i'd have to agree with you! i think they're still a year away from the final four.


MAnyara is not a 3 point shooter, trip lang nya tumira dahil sobra open, but if you watched all preseason games, nawala na un sa kanya, better for the team, for me 2 or no. 3 spot adu before going to F4.


magresearch kaya kau kung sinu mga next players ng adu, baka magulat ka,... di lang dito may blue chips, mas marami sa ibang bansa


Anonymous: I guess I wasn't very clear there. Cabrera was the one who shot the 3s and Manyara the mid-rangers. I agree with you that Adamson is a solid Top 3 pick -- might be tough for them to get #2, but with Noundou out for maybe the whole season it's definitely possible.

Jigs: Wow care to enlighten us? Fil-ams or more foreigners?


Enzo bro! and there was light! we are no.2 team. with a twice to beat advantage!