Adamson University head coach Nash Racela remains optimistic over their Final Four chances despite dropping their last assignment in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 men’s basketball tournament elimination round.
The Falcons came up short of advancing to the semifinals after absorbing a 61-66 defeat at the hands of Final Four top seed Ateneo de Manila University on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Closing the eliminations with a 7-7 win-loss record tied with De La Salle University, Adamson still has one more shot at ending a four-year wait for a semis appearance on Sunday.
For Racela, at least the Falcons still have control of their fate.
Adamson and La Salle will dispute the right to face the twice-to-beat armed Blue Eagles in a playoff on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Our focus now is to control things we can control. That has been our message ever since,” he said.
Coming into the last eliminations playdate, a rescheduled game day following the postponement of the 29 October matches due to inclement weather brought about by severe tropical storm “Paeng,” the Falcons actually had two ways of making it to the semis.
One was to win over the Blue Eagles and another was for the Green Archers to lose to University of Santo Tomas.
None pulled through.
“We could’ve been in the Final Four already but no. Imagine he had help from UE (which defeated La Salle), then we almost had a boost from UST. It was just unfortunate, but again, those are things that we do not have control of,” Racela said.
“Almost (won), against Ateneo. It would have been nice if we won that game and just advanced outright. But no. Again, we just have to rest, focus again, study, and then just prepare for La Salle.”
The two squads have split their eliminations head-to-head.
Jerom Lastimosa dropped 29 points in the Falcons’ 86-84 overtime win over the Green Archers in their first-round meeting last 22 October.
La Salle returned the favor in their rematch last 17 November, 81-78, in a game where Adamson played sans Lastimosa, who was then resting a right foot injury.
Now, the two teams are facing off in their third and last meeting this season with their tournament campaigns at stake.
Racela is just glad his team remains alive and kicking.
“Two weeks ago, I told them before we practiced, I want to still play in December, I want to still coach in December, I want you guys playing in December,” he said.
“And, yeah, we’re playing this Sunday, 4 December. That’s what we wanted.”