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Adamson and UP hope to break losing spell

By Paolo Mariano Posted Aug 31st 2013

Star guard Jericho Cruz looks to break out of his shooting slump as Adamson takes on UP.

Bottom-feeders Adamson University and University of the Philippines (UP) look to break their dry spells as they lock horns in the curtain-raiser of Saturday’s double-header in the 76th UAAP men’s senior basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Soaring Falcons are on a six-game losing streak, the last of which came last Wednesday against University of Santo Tomas, while the Fighting Maroons have yet to enter the win column in nine outings.

Adamson head coach Leo Austria owes their unenviable record to their lack of composure in crunch time. 

Star guard Jericho Cruz has struggled from the field in the second round, averaging 33.9%, including 1-of-10 from three-point range, while import Ingrid Sewa has been inconsistent. The lack of a reliable point guard has also been a headache for the Soaring Falcons, with the trio of Ryan Monteclaro, Axel Iñigo, and Al-Raouf Julkipli struggling to pilot their flight.

Like in their previous games, the Soaring Falcons need to address their turnovers, tallying a league-worst 18.1 errors per outing. One thing going for them though, despite Cruz’s off-the-mark hits, is their high field goal conversion rate at 40.5%, tops among the lot.

UP, meanwhile, is just itching to snatch a victory in a campaign that has been more memorable for internal controversies than inspiring triumphs. After point guard Mikee Reyes left the team one game into the season due to an argument with then-head coach Ricky Dandan, it was the veteran mentor’s turn to acrimoniously walk away after a bitter dispute with team officials.

In just his second game, new chief tactician Rey Madrid is at the very least hoping to inject more life to his slumping squad, which is already out of Final Four contention.

The Diliman-based squad is dead last in almost all major statistical categories, including points (64.4), field goal percentage (34.6%), rebounds (41.3), and assists (10.7)

The Fighting Maroons will need more effort from scorer Sam Marata, playmaker Henry Asilum, and big man Raul Soyud, especially on the defensive end. Lanky pivot Chris Ball, meanwhile, is expected to suit up after missing their last game against De La Salle University due to a sprained ankle.  

The Soaring Falcons drew first blood in their season series, hacking out a 79-67 win last June 30, extending their winning streak against UP to eight. State U will miss the Final Four for the 16th straight year.

The game will air live on Studio 23, BALLS HD 167, and with a replay on the same day at 6:30 p.m. on BALLS SkyCable channel 34/Destiny Cable channel 36.