The Games That Play Us: Phew

Rodney Brondial and the Falcons escaped the upset axe
against the Fighting Maroons.


Coach Leo Austria probably heaved a sigh of relief after seeing Alvin Padilla misfire from beyond the arc to end this cardiac affair.

Phew. That was close – a little too close.

Still, a win is a win, and Adamson would do well to take this, especially since it’s just their first of the young season.

It’s not exactly the prettiest of victories, but it sure looked like the Falcons would romp all over the Maroons early on. Adamson started really strong, dumping 28 points on UP in the first period. The San Marcelino five were so dominant that it seemed like men fighting against boys in that quarter. They shot 63% from the floor, grabbed FOUR times as many rebounds as UP, dished out 7 assists (UP had NONE), and forced twice as many Maroon turnovers.

Anyone changing the channel after that one-sided stanza couldn’t be faulted.

These are the UP Fighting Maroons, after all. They’re not exactly known for stirring comebacks. That description is reserved for the UST Growling Tigers.

If you were patient, however, then you saw a very different UP team in the second and third quarters.

UP thoroughly manhandled Adamson in the second canto, with newcomer Cris Ball and returnee Mark Lopez pairing up for 15 of the Maroons’ 20 points. More impressive, though, was the Diliman quintet outrebounding Adamson and forcing the Falcons to commit 9 turnovers, which led to 8 UP points.

Coach Ricky Dandan’s boys continued to chomp at the deficit after the half. Lopez, Alvin Padilla, Jelo Montecastro, and Henry Asilum all scored at least 4 points in the third period as the Maroons fought back and tied the count at 50 heading into the final 10 minutes. Adamson continued to shoot poorly from the field, and they remained turnover-prone.

Nobody could blame Coach Austria if he felt a little queasy.

The back-and-forth continued in the fourth period, with UP finally stealing the lead after Montecastro’s split from the stripe, 59-58. And then Eric Camson and Jericho Cruz took over. The duo connected on a 9-3 run that handed the Falcons a 67-62 advantage with a little more than a minute to go.

But, oh boy, the Iskos weren’t done yet. Lopez netted a triple and Alvin Padilla converted off yet another Adamson turnover to tie the count at 67 with under 40 ticks left.

Then the pivotal play happened. Jericho Cruz drove strong inside the key and hoisted a floater that clanged off the iron. For a split-second, it seemed the game would go into extra time, but big man Rodney Brondial was at the right place at the right time. Poor boxing out by UP enabled Brondial to scoop up his fifth offensive board and easily sink the marginal basket.

The Maroons still had time to run one last play, but poor execution led to the aforementioned three-point attempt from Padilla.

So Adamson finally breaks into the win column, and the Falcons’ confidence is high heading into Week 4. They’re still a Final Four dark horse, but their performances this past week should make them mentally tougher in their next few games. It also seems like newcomer Cruz has found his groove, which should make Coach Austria’s boys even more dangerous.

On the other hand, this loss probably reminded the Maroons of their opening day defeat to DLSU. It was a nice come-from-behind effort that ended in tragedy. Another day, another bitter pill. It seems, however, that Coach Dandan finally found a reliable big in Cris Ball, and it sure looked like Mark Lopez, not Mike Silungan, is UP’s best wingman option. Well, at least the UP faithful can take solace in the fact that teams cannot simply cruise past their team. If anything, this game is a stern warning at the Maroons’ future foes that it’ll take more than a great first quarter to turn back UP.

Jericho Cruz had a breakout game to help Adamson net
its first win in Season 75.

Mark Lopez was easily the best Maroon on the
court in Week 3. Can he continue his sublime play?


AdU 69 – Cruz 19, Camson 19, Brondial 10, Rios 3, petilos 3, Monteclaro 3, Etrone 3, Trollano 0, Julkipli 0, Deans 0, Cabrera 0, Abrigo 0
UP 67 – Lopez 17, Ball 13, Padilla 9, Montecastro 7, Gamboa 6, Manuel 4, Asilum 4, Silungan 3, Soyud 2, Hipolito 2, Mbah 0, Romero 0, Galalrza 0
QS: 28-8, 37-28, 50-50, 69-67
Notable Performers:
Rodney Brondial (AdU) – 10pts, 15rebs, 5blks, 3asts
Jericho Cruz (AdU) – 19pts, 4rebs
Mark Lopez (UP) – 17pts, 6rebs, 4stls, 3asts, 1blk

*All images are from the University Basketball League.

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