Adamson University star guard Jerom Lastimosa has done some heavy lifting in the home stretch of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament, as the Falcons soared to catch the last bus to the Final Four.
Lastimosa, who braved a right foot injury in the second round, towed Adamson to the Final Four for the first time since 2018 following a thrilling 80-76 win against La Salle in a win-or-go-home duel for the last playoff spot.
For his heroics, Lastimosa was voted unanimously as the Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week presented by the Philippine Sports Commission and San Miguel Corporation.
The 5-foot-10 combo guard poured half of his 22 points in Adamson’s telling third quarter rally, where he blanked La Salle all on his own with a personal 11-0 run that ultimately gave them the lead for the first time in the contest at 57-56.
And as if that game-changing spree that turned the Soaring Falcons’ fate around from the brink of elimination wasn’t enough, Lastimosa came through in the clutch anew by calmly sinking the insurance freebies for a 79-76 cushion in the last 12 seconds.
The Soaring Falcons held on from there until the final horn as Lastimosa climbed up to the stands much to the hype of the wild crowd as the San Marcelino-based squad, in the process, spoiled a gigantic Ateneo-La Salle semis showdown.
“We’re happy kasi kasi almost four years rin kaming hindi nakapasok sa Final Four. Now andito na kami sa Final Four, so i-grab namin tong opportunity na ito and focus on the next game and really pag-aralan talaga namin ‘yong Ateneo both offense and defense,” said Lastimosa, who added six assists and a steal on his decent 4-of-10 shooting clip from downtown.
Despite his injury, Lastimosa’s composure and bravery would further reveal themselves in the knockout match that helped the Soaring Falcons counter all the predictions ruling them out of the Final Four contention.
“Sinabi ko sa teammates ko hindi pa tapos ‘yong game. Kasi La Salle up by 10 [in the third quarter], so talagang hindi kami maggi-give up talaga and ramdam na ramdam ko naman na sa amin itong Final Four,” he added.
Lastimosa stood out among other candidates led by Kai Ballungay of Ateneo, Evan Nelle of La Salle, and teammate AP Manlapaz for the award also backed by MNL Kingpin, Tinapayan Festival, and Jockey.
It’s the second straight citation of Lastimosa for the weekly honor being deliberated upon by the print and online media covering the collegiate beat as Adamson arranged a duel against the top-seeded and twice-to-beat armed Ateneo starting this Wednesday.
Reigning champion and No. 2 University of the Philippines is in the other semis bracket against No. 3 National University.