With the clock winding down, fans were jumping and roaring as the Adamson University Falcons rallied behind an unusual hero to defeat UAAP defending champions Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles in the quarterfinals of the 2010 FilOil-Flying V First Five Pre-season Invitationals at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.
That unusual hero was the seldom-used small forward Roider Cabrera who sizzled with five three pointers including a heave from beyond the arc with only 34.7 ticks remaining in the clock to upset the fancied Blue Eagles, 66-59.
Cabrera scored all of his 16 points in the final canto to carry the Falcons all the way to the semi finals and one win away from a finals berth.
“We switched to a motion offense, which was specifically designed to give him openings to take the shot and Cabrera is someone who would always have that confidence to take those kinds of shots,” says Falcons’ head coach Leo Austria in an end-game interview.
Ateneo even held the lead entering the fourth quarter courtesy of a back-to-back triple by veteran Eric Salamat to end the third. But the daggers Cabrera hit in the fourth quarter took the wind out of the Blue Eagles’ wings as they gave out their lead and succumbed to the Falcons’ shooting prowess.
According to Coach Austria, the last time the Falcons defeated the Blue Eagles was way back in the 2008 FilOil Tournament which was also a quarterfinal match. “This win was big for us and it is very good for our morale,” the veteran coach added.
The confidence failed to turn into much needed points, however, at the semifinal match. Banking on veteran playmakers RR Garcia and Reil Cervantes, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws edged out Adamson 75-69 in overtime.
Garcia, touted as the Tamaraws’ emerging star guard, sank 10 out of 12 points in the overtime period to turn back the Falcons’ resilient efforts. Lester Alvarez shot a three-pointer to make it 63-61 in the dying seconds of regulation time before the Tamaraws leveled it at 63-all to end time. In the end, the Falcons could only add six more points in OT to let the other team win.
As if to make up for the semifinal loss, the Falcons then spurned NCAA stalwart Jose Rizal University 57-55 to take third place over-all in the tournament. The Heavy Bombers, led by Cameroonian player Joe Etame, failed to make it past NCAA rivals San Sebastian College in the other semifinal.
San Sebastian then fought hard to eke out a one-point victory over FEU 79-78 to win the championship. The Stags’ win makes them the first NCAA team to win the pre-season tournament, which has been previously won by UAAP teams.
Despite not bagging the championship crown, this strong showing is expected to become a big boost as the Falcons prep up for UAAP Season 73. The team is aiming to make it to the Final Four after nearly reaching it last season, finishing at fifth place above a weakened De La Salle team. Yael Esperat/Jan Allen Puertollano