MANILA, Philippines -- Adamson University coach Franz Pumaren commended his team's defensive effort even though they faltered against defending UAAP champion Ateneo de Manila University on Sunday in the second round of the Season 81 men's basketball tournament.
The Soaring Falcons were hoping to repeat their 74-70 upset of the Blue Eagles in their first round meeting, but instead Ateneo exacted its revenge at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
In a defensive grind, the defending champions claimed a 62-48 triumph, tightening their grip on the top spot while handing Adamson its third loss of the season.
Nevertheless, Pumaren was proud of his team's effort on the defensive end. Ateneo entered the game averaging 78.9 points per game on 40.3% shooting, but against Adamson's defense they put up just 62 points on a 31.15% clip.
"We still played decent defense," said Pumaren, whose players only allow 68.7 points per game on the average.
"Coming from a team that's been on a massacre mission, they just scored 62 points. So we still had a decent defensive effort," he added.
He also pointed out that they forced Ateneo to 22 turnovers, far more than 14.5 errors that the Blue Eagles commit per game.
"For a No. 1 team, I think that's an accomplishment on our part. Imagine if we didn't force them to make those turnovers, baka mas lalong malaki ang lamang," said Pumaren.
Unfortunately for Adamson, they were unable to do much damage on the offensive end. They shot only 27.42% from the field, including only 7-of-20 from beyond the arc. Their top scoring options -- Jerrick Ahanmisi, Papi Sarr, and Sean Manganti -- went a combined 8-of-32 from the field for a total of only 25 points.
"We really didn't execute well," Pumaren admitted.
"We were too relaxed, I guess, thinking that we can always turn it on and turn it off," he added. "But you have to give credit to Ateneo -- they really came out with a lot of fire, with a lot of intensity. They really wanted this victory."
The good news for Adamson is that despite the loss, they still have the inside track on a Top 2 finish, as they are one full game ahead of third-running De La Salle University with their 8-3 win-loss record.
Pumaren stressed that they have to take care of their own business, first and foremost, and not dwell on how the other teams are doing. They wrap up their schedule with games against University of Santo Tomas, University of the East, and Far Eastern University.
"We just have to do our own job," he said. "We cannot rely on other teams beating the other schools for us to assure it."
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