They were last season’s heartbreak kids, losing close games by narrow margins. Now, armed with a veteran nucleus and a promising crop of rookies, the Adamson University Soaring Falcons are poised to turn things around and conquer opponents when the 73rd season of the UAAP men’s basketball kicks off.
Coach Leo Austria shaped this season’s Falcons team into a fighting, clawing unit, providing substantial infusions of depth and power by recruiting über-athletic rookies to complement the team’s adept line-up.
Although Adamson lost seven players from last year, only Leo Canuday and Aldrin Margallo were in the regular rotation of these seven, giving Coach Leo Austria an intact nucleus of nine returning players.
To complement his veteran line-up, Coach Austria acquired foreign big men Austin Manyara from Kenya and Will Stinnett from Guam who, together with veteran Jan Colina, form an imposing front line. “My game is all about rebounding and defense, that’s what I bring to the team,” said Manyara, who is the only starter among the rookies. “I can bring toughness off the bench,” said Stinnett, who will substitute either Manyara or Colina in the rotation. Center Rodney Brondial, shooter Allen Etrone—younger brother of UE’s Gino Etrone—and second-string guards Ryan Monteclaro and Jansen Rios will also debut to provide firepower off the bench. Jeff Olalia, a promising rookie back in season 70 returns to the squad after a two-year absence to help the Falcons’ cause. “Rookies sila dahil first time nila dito sa team but ang kanilang ability to play is not a rookie anymore. In fact, yung ibang rookies natin can start with the other teams kaya sinasabi nung iba na yung team natin is very competitive,” according to Coach Austria.
Adamson’s big problem last year was closing out games. This season, Coach Austria is hoping such end-game collapse will be a thing of the past. “Last year kulang tayo sa decision-making but the experience and maturity that our players gained will help us this year. I think this team can surpass the performance we had last year, which [was] a fifth-place finish. I think achievable yung final four,” said Coach Austria.
With a barrage of positive things going for the Falcons this year, expect them to crash the Final Four for the first time in four years. Jan Allen Puertollano