Adamson University secured its third straight Final Four berth after a 96-83 beating of University of Sto. Tomas (UST) in Season 81 University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The second-running Soaring Falcons pulled away in the third quarter then flew unthreatened toward their third consecutive semifinals appearance with an improved 9-3 record.
“I don’t want to sound hypocritical. Of course, reaching the Final Four is an achievement but we’ve been doing that for the last two years,” said Adamson head coach Franz Pumaren.
“Hopefully, we can improve our finish for this year,” he added.
Seasoned forward Sean Manganti finished with a game-high 22 points on top of seven rebounds and four assists while Simon Camacho posted a career-best 15 markers as three other Falcons scored in double figures.
“It feels good. But we’ve done it twice already. That’s not our goal. We’ve got a higher goal besides it,” said skipper Manganti.
Jerrick Ahanmisi chipped in 13 points, pouring eight in the breakaway third. Cameroonian center Papi Sarr tallied a double-double of 11 markers and 13 boards while Jerom Lastimosa added 10 points.
Adamson dominated the paint — scoring 52 inside points and hauling down 53 rebounds compared to UST’s 14 markers and 35 boards.
After a tight first half that saw eight deadlocks and seven lead changes, the Falcons soared to a 15-0 surge to open the third period with a 54-39 advantage.
Ahanmisi sank a triple that marked Adamson’s largest lead, 75-58, early in the final frame.
UST tried to stage a comeback with CJ Cansino’s corner trey that capped an 11-2 run, 69-77, with 5:22 remaining.
But Manganti’s back-to-back baskets, 91-78, practically sealed the win for Adamson.
Renzo Subido led UST with 21 points while captain Marvin Lee and rookie sensation Cansino had 18 and 17 markers, respectively.
The No. 6 Tigers’ record fell to 5-7 — one and a half games behind fellow Final Four contenders University of the Philippines and Far Eastern University.
ADAMSON (96)– Manganti 22, Camacho 15, Ahanmisi 13, Sarr 11, Lastimosa 10, Pingoy 9, Mojica 8, Mabuhos 4, Catapusan 2, Bernardo 2, Zaldivar 0, Espeleta 0.
UST (83)– Subido 21, Lee 18, Cansino 17, Huang 8, Mahinay 8, Zamora 7, Bataller 2, Caunan 2, Marcos 0.
Quarterscores: 21-20; 39-40; 70-58; 96-83