Amid winning exits, Falcons stay in Final Four hunt

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JOSHUA YERRO. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

As one eliminated team after another hit the exit with their heads held high, Adamson University figured it would hang around just a little longer—long enough, perhaps, to show up in the Final Four.

“One more game,” Falcons coach Nash Racela said on Thursday.

A struggling Jerom Lastimosa nailed the game-clinching triple on Saturday as Adamson squeaked past favored National U, 64-63, to keep Racela’s squad on track for a berth in the semifinals of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament.

“Actually, a lot of people are counting us out already because they want La Salle to make it into the Final Four,’’ said Racela after the game at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Not so fast, the Falcons said. And the Warriors of University of the East (UE) delivered the same message, too.

UE drilled La Salle, 80-72, to end its campaign this season on a high note and put La Salle’s hopes for a stint in the next round in peril.

“I made a request to my players to give me a gift by winning our last game. They committed and we ended our season on a winning note,’’ said UE coach Jack Santiago,

Rookie guard Rey Remogat smelled blood in extra time and swished a clutch three with 46.1 seconds to ice the win for the Warriors.

“Our last game became my motivation. It was a tight game, but we weren’t able to finish,’’ said Remogat, who scored 20 of his career-high 24 points in the second half. He was referring to an overtime setback at the hands of Ateneo in a previous game.

Easier schedule

Adamson and La Salle started the day with similar 6-6 (win-loss) records. And the Green Archers looked to have the easier schedule in the footrace for the last Final Four seat. Adamson had the Bulldogs and the Blue Eagles—two teams in the top four. La Salle, meanwhile, had eliminated squads UE and University of Santo Tomas (UST) on tap.

Wise money, naturally, was on the Archers to survive the elimination round. The Falcons, however, felt differently.

“I know what people think and we want to counter that,” Racela said. “That’s actually our goal. Expectation and reality are always different, so we’ll try our best.’’

A win by the Falcons against the Eagles will seal a semifinal stint for Adamson on Wednesday.

In another game, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws also departed on the wings of a victory after whipping the UST Tigers, 77-62.

“I told [the players] in practice that our situation is really something different because we didn’t make it in the Final Four. We’re used to having a post-season,’’ said FEU coach Olsen Racela, whose Tamaraws completed the 14-game eliminations with a 5-9 record. “But I told them we can also do something different today and that is to finish the season with a win.”

L-Jay Gonzales scored 15 points and Bryan Sajonia added 11 as FEU missed the semifinals for the first time in eight seasons.

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