Posted Jul 12th 2014
Adamson Soaring Falcons: Building for the Future
By Paolo Mariano Posted Jul 8th 2014
Adamson has nine reasons—nine rookies to be exact.
If there’s one team that underwent a major facelift in the off-season, it’s the Soaring Falcons. With more than half of the roster made up of newcomers, including their coaches, the squad is practically starting from scratch.
Their roster was gutted out by the exodus of their main man, their most dependable shooter, a pair of hardworking big men, and a couple of energizers. Gone are Jericho Cruz, Rodney Brondial, Ingrid Sewa, Roider Cabrera, Harry Petilos, and Gian Abrigo. That means more than half of Adamson's production from last season just went zilch. Still, the team's brain trust is being optimistic and more importantly, realistic.
"We're rebuilding. It's a learning process. Hopefully, our players can respond quickly and compete with the more mature guys (in the league)," said debuting UAAP head coach Kenneth Duremdes.
"We're young, we had key losses, but we have guys who want to compete and as coaches, that's all we want. They're a bunch of good guys who play well together and have fun together," added assistant coach Vince Hizon.
Left to spearhead the squad are Jansen Rios, Don Trollano, Ryan Monteclaro, and Axel Iñigo. Both Rios and Trollano, who had career years in Season 76, can shoot from the outside, attack the lane, and play decent defense, while Monteclaro and Iñigo are pass-first playmakers, who can direct the team. Also expected to make an impact is scrappy guard Joseph Nalos, a transferee from Southwestern University in Cebu. They, however, are all untested as go-to-guys, having used to playing supporting roles in the past.
"The exit of Jericho left us a void in scoring and leadership. But we're looking at it in a positive way. Now, the younger guys have the chance to takeover. Before, they (deferred) to Jericho and their abilities were hindered a bit. Now, they have the freedom," said Duremdes.
If offense was sparse last season with only 67.1 PPG (7th in the league), this year will be more of a crisis with the graduation of Cruz, Cabrera, Sewa, and Brondial, the team’s top four scorers. Rebounding will be a major problem as well with the Soaring Falcons clearly lacking in ceiling. With an inexperienced lineup, they’ll also have trouble limiting their errors, which was already a problem last year with a league-worst 18.1 turnovers per outing.
Transitioning from the system of former coach Leo Austria, who was unceremoniously sacked, to the new one laid out by Duremdes, Hizon, and fellow ex-UAAP star Marlou Aquino is also a huge factor for the San Marcelino-based troop.
Young players usually want to show off quickly, developing a tendency to swerve from the system and improvise to a fault. That's why making them buy into a certain system and understand their specific roles is as easy as making a turnaround fade-away baseline three-pointer.
"The adjustment is really hard. We have young guys coming from different high schools with different systems. But we're being patient. We want to mold them into one unit. Team first, before individual," said Duremdes, who starred for Adamson in the early 90s and was named to the UAAP Mythical Five several times.
Given the almost bare cupboard, the Soaring Falcons have modest expectations. They don’t have delusions about winning individual awards or hoisting the crown at season’s end. They know they lack the firepower, experience, and quite frankly, talent. But for sure, they’ll try to slay the mighty giants.
"We'll take it game by game. Hopefully, we can pull off an upset. Learning is the most important, may be it during the game or practice," said Duremedes.
In a short league like the UAAP, the term "win now" is almost an obdurate credo. Players are in a revolving door and teams can’t afford to wait for long. But in rare cases, like the one Adamson’s in, it’s better to build for the future. No pressure. No worries. If the 11 rookies stick it out and improve gradually, just imagine how fluid they’ll be as a unit when they become the veterans.
"We believe we don’t have the skill right now. But we tell them that they're responsible together. They won’t have to rely on just one or two guys anymore. It's better for them, they'll grow together. In the end, sila rin naman ang magsasama-sama (they'll still be the ones playing together)," said Duremdes.
"If the UAAP can change the rules and let me, Kenneth, and Marlou play, then maybe we can win the championship,” said Hizon in jest. "But we have a long-term plan. It’s not live-and-die this year. We’ll have growing pains but as time goes on, we’ll improve."