By NIKOLE JAVIER
Jerom Lastimosa scored key baskets in the huge third quarter rally to lift Adamson 80-76 past De La Salle in rubber match in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament on Sunday night, Dec. 4, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Lastimosa delivered big for the Soaring Falcons with 22 points to go along with six assists on a decent 4-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
Joshua Yerro chipped in 13 points apart from six rebounds while Adrian Manlapaz and Lenda Douanga added 11 and 10, respectively.
The Soaring Falcons had to recover from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2018.
Down by 13 early in the third quarter, 38-51, Lastimosa towed Adamson to a huge 21-12 third-quarter finish with an 11-0 run all on his own midway through.
Tied at 67-all after Evan Nelle’s two-point play on the foul line, CJ Austria followed through with a layup to create a slim lead of four for La Salle.
However, JM Sabandal knocked a much-needed triple before Joshua Yerro was sent to the line for two more points to give Adamson a one-point advantage which wouldn’t last long as Ben Phillips answered back with a three-pointer of his own, 72-74.
With 1:30 left in the contest, Douanga came through with a huge basket inside the paint before Mark Nonoy committed a costly turnover which led to a Cedrick Manzano layup to give Adamson a three-point separation.
In true dramatic playoff fashion, Nelle had other plans and drained one more basket off a steal on Lastimosa from the inbound to pull La Salle within one.
But Nelle’s foul on Lastimosa with 12 ticks remaining did it for the Soaring Falcons as the latter’s composure would reveal itself on the line.
Yerro, who drew another foul from Raven Cortez, iced the game with split freebies.
“We won’t be in this situation if not for the other guys. He did the heavy part despite his injury it’s no secret that he’s not a 100% still. Pero he sacrificed a lot, all of our players sacrificed a lot. So, I’m just thankful na nakabalik kami sabi nga ni Jerom after four years,” said Adamson head coach Nash Racela.
Nelle’s 22 points and seven assists paced La Salle while Nonoy chipped in 15. Austria and Phillips contributed a similar 11-point outing as they would miss the Final Four this time around.
Adamson will face Ateneo on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
ADAMSON 80 — Lastimosa 22, Yerro 13, Manlapaz 11, Douanga 10, Manzano 8, Sabandal 8, Jaymalin 3, Hanapi 2, Flowers 2, Torres 1, V. Magbuhos 0, Colonia 0, Barasi 0, Fuentebella 0.
LA SALLE 76 — Nelle 22, Nonoy 15, B. Phillips 11, Austria 11, Cortez 10, Abadam 3, Macalalag 2, Buensalida 2, Estacio 0, Nwankwo 0, Manuel 0.
Quarters: 20-27, 38-48, 59-60, 80-76.