These Adamson Baby Falcons are nobodies no more

These Adamson Baby Falcons are nobodies no more
The other teams better get ready for Adamson as, without a doubt, the Baby Falcons will be a force to reckon with next season

In the first round of the 80th Season of the UAAP Juniors Basketball Tournament, it was all about fully-loaded Ateneo de Manila High School, powerhouse Nazareth School of National University, awoken giant University of Sto. Tomas, and defending champion Far Eastern University-Diliman.

With those four locking down the top half of the standings, the Final Four seemed to be set.

Then came the second round and a brand new upstart entered the playoff picture.

Competitive in their contests up against the top teams in the first round, Adamson High School built upon that confidence to register a record of 4-3 in the second round.

That, along with the Tiger Cubs’ struggles, led to a 7-7 elimination round finish for the Baby Falcons – extending their campaign with a playoff for the fourth-seed.

The motivation was pretty simple for the squad nobody thought would be contending this quick. “Ang battle cry namin is we are nobody and we want to make a name for ourselves,” head coach Mike Fermin shared.

He then continued, “Imagine, 14 rookies, sino ba yang mga yan? Yun lang nasa utak namin.”

Adamson was expected to be rebuilding as it has not even been a year after the departure of former head coach Goldwyn Monteverde along with what was once a championship-caliber core including Gerry Abadiano, EJ Agbong, Forthsky Padrigao, Encho Serrano, and Carl Tamayo.

Enter Fermin – and really, his track record of maximizing whatever materials he has should have told us that the Baby Falcons were taking flight sooner than later.

The 38-year-old mentor once took over for Kenneth Duremdes and led the Soaring Falcons to a respectable finish.

When Franz Pumaren was installed as Seniors head coach, Fermin then took his talents to the Lady Falcons whom he guided to the Final Four.

Now, the always amiable mentor has been tasked to make sure that there is wind beneath the wings of Adamson High.

And for the third time, the San Marcelino-based school’s faith in Fermin has paid dividends – with the Baby Falcons taking the Tiger Cubs to the limit before surrendering a one-point defeat in overtime in their do-or-die game for the fourth-seed.

Of course, it had to help that three of Monteverde’s recruits opted to stay. “Malaking bagay na nandito pa rin yung Doria brothers at yung Sabandal kasi nadadala nila yung leadership on and off the court,” the head coach said, talking about starting forwards Andrey and Adam Doria and lead guard Joem Sabandal.

He then continued, “Tapos yung experience nila, malaking bagay rin. Masasabi nilang, ‘Nakapaglaro na kami ng UAAP at mase-share namin yung experience na yun.’”

And oh, of course, it had to help that one of those three returnees happened to be a star just waiting for a chance to shine.w

Sabandal has been, without a doubt, the breakout star of the second round of the season – and even the entire season because, well, really, CJ Cansino has already been doing CJ Cansino things since a year ago.

That was again evident in the fourth-seed playoff as the Cagayan de Oro native almost had a triple-double with a stat line of 20 points, nine assists, nine rebounds, and three steals.

While their surprise contention didn’t put them in the semifinals, Adamson will remain intact and reap the rewards of their experience for next season.

Without a doubt, nobody could say they are nobodies anymore.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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