NU, Ateneo, FEU as top teams in UAAP 81? Baby Falcons say don’t forget them

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 15, 2018 07:03 PM
NU, Ateneo as top teams? Baby Falcons say don’t forget them
Adamson is on track to make its first Final Four in the Mike Fermin era

In the third quarter of the matchup between Adamson University and Nazareth School of National University last Wednesday, head coach Mike Fermin shouted something during a Baby Falcons’ timeout.

“Wala kang kailangang patunayan sa kanila.”

“Ka” was referring to their top gun Joem Sabandal. “Kanila” was referring to the Bulldogs coaching staff led by Goldwin Monterverde – former mentor of Adamson and thus, also former mentor of Sabandal.

“Sabi ko sa kanya, kasi nga former coach niya, ‘Relax, wala ka nang dapat i-prove dyan,’” the always amiable mentor shared. “Kaya ka kinuha nyan kasi may potential ka. Now, kung ‘di ka nasama kung saan man siya napunta, ‘di mo kawalan yun. It’s for you to motivate yourself.”

That message kept the graduating guard’s head in the game and not long after, he led Adamson in finishing off a takedown of previously unbeaten NU. “Tama naman si coach – past na nga yun. Ang importante, yung gana sa laro namin, nandun,” he said.

He then continued, “Before nga ng game, pinag-usapan namin yung pride kasi kilala namin yung players and coaches sa kabila. Kaya yung gana talaga namin, kitang-kita.”

Of course, post-game, they only acknowledged the importance of the win for the upstart program. “Masaya kasi number one team tapos na-beat namin. Ang preparation talaga namin, mula summer, gusto namin sila i-beat e,” Sabandal shared.

Coach Mike could only agree with his promising prospect. “Since the preseason, ‘di kami nananalo sa kanila so it really is a big win. We just really wanted to show them that we belong sa ligang ‘to,” he said.

Just three days later, the Baby Falcons then routed De La Salle Zobel to finish the first round at 5-2 – just right behind the first-place Bullpups and alongside defending champion Ateneo de Manila High School and longtime powerhouse Far Eastern University-Diliman.

And for coach Mike they are far from finished. “Last year, we almost made the Final Four with 14 rookies. Now, ngayong may holdovers, tinaasan namin yung goal namin – to make the Final four na talaga,” he said.

Sabandal went even further in saying, “This year, we want something higher – 1 or 2 (seed). Yun talaga ang goal namin.”

If they do make good on their word, not only will coach Mike be in his first playoffs in the high school ranks, he will also grant Adamson its first twice-to-beat advantage in recent history.

In all, those are just the proof the Baby Falcons need to tell everybody that they have been rebuilt, reinforced, and rejuvenated into a playoff contender. “Start pa lang ng season, yun na nasa isip namin – we want to be a contender,” Sabandal expressed.

And who knows, even more than just a playoff contender?

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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