Pampanga is gift that keeps on giving for Baby Falcons

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jan 30, 2020 04:18 PM
Pampanga is gift that keeps on giving for Baby Falcons
(Photo courtesy of UAAP)

Adamson High School has continued its contention in the UAAP 82 Boys Basketball Tournament.

This, even with an essentially brand new team that had lost all of Joem Sabandal, AP Manlapaz, and Doria twins Andrey and Adam.

The Baby Falcons have done it thanks to a fresh crop of promising prospects - one of which actually ascended to be the surprise frontrunner in the MVP race after the first round.

Jake Figueroa wasted no time standing as a pillar for the San Marcelino-based squad's continued contention, posting per game counts of 12.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.2 blocks.

That has been more than enough for him to nudge ahead of more heralded players such as Nazareth School of National University's Kevin Quiambao and Far Eastern University-Diliman's Penny Estacio in terms of Statistical Points (SPs).

Still, that he was tops among players in terms of SPs was a shock for just about everybody - even the 17-year-old himself. "'Di ko akalaing mapupunta ako sa no. 1. Nagtiyaga lang ako, nag-hard work lang ako," he said.

That goes as well for Figueroa's mentor. "Hindi ko rin in-expect yun, to be honest. What I expected was maganda ang laro niya kasi wala siyang rookie jitters," head coach Mike Fermin shared.

He then continued, "Pero he's not even demanding for the ball. I'm the one saying pa nga na bigyan sa post yung bata. Trabaho lang talaga, trabaho lang talaga yung bata."

Behind the 17-year-old surprise MVP frontrunner, as well as fellow rookie John Erolon, Adamson is a force to reckon with - very much like they were a year ago when another breakout player was a key cog in their Final Four run.

As it turns out, that's not where the similarities end between Figueroa and Manlapaz. "Ang nagdala kay Jake sa amin, si Rod Tuazon. Siya yung taga-Pampanga na nagdala rin kay AP Manlapaz sa amin," Coach Mike said.

Yes, the Baby Falcons' last two breakout players have come courtesy of one province.

And for Figueroa, Manlapaz is an inspiration. "Dito na lang kami nagkakilala sa Adamson, pero siyempre, naririnig-rinig ko na siya sa Pampanga. Pwedeng-pwede namang masundan ko sana ang yapak niya," the former said.

To follow the footsteps of Manlapaz, Figueroa has to bring back Adamson to the Final Four.

Fortunately for the blue and white, their young workhorse is only up to the task - ready and raring to even give up the top individual award if need be. As he put it, "Kung ako mag-MVP, pero nakababa rin team namin, parang wala ring sense makuha yun. Kaya gagawin ko ang lahat para matulungan kaming makapag-Final Four."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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