It’s on me
On a roll sometime early in the UAAP tournament, Val Chauca had no qualms making bold declarations about himself and his team. He wanted to be MVP. He wanted the Adamson Falcons to be champions.
On Sunday, on the verge of keying an even bolder statement win for his school, Chauca lost control in the game—thrice, literally—allowing University of the Philippines to forge an 81-77 victory at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
“As a veteran, coach Franz [Pumaren] expects a lot more leadership; it’s on me,” said Chauca of the defeat. “I take full responsibility.”
Pumaren’s faith in Chauca reflected in the frustrations that spilled out of him after Sunday’s game.
“The guy that was supposed to give the killer punch turned the ball over,” said Pumaren of Chauca, who had three turnovers in the fourth.
Those errors were part of the Falcons’ nosedive—Adamson was outscored, 21-5, to end the game—and were uncharacteristic of the playmaker who opened the match with 17 points in the first two quarters.
Final Four in jeopardy
Unfortunately for Adamson, Chauca dropped just two more points the rest of the way as the Falcons slipped to 4-7, their Final Four hopes close to flat-lining.
“I’m a veteran on the team and I can’t make mistakes like that,” said Chauca, a one-and-done recruit who is taking up his Masters in Business Administration in his lone year of eligibility. “I’m definitely disappointed with myself. I pretty much worked my whole life to get to this point and what happened [Sunday] was a heartbreaker.”
Indeed. Adamson had a 72-60 lead and was looking to its top guard to navigate the Falcons safely home. Instead, Chauca could only cough up two attempts from the field and made one. He burned a lot of the shot clock dribbling the ball instead of finding his shot or looking for open teammates.
“Well I can be brutally frank, I can say what I saw, what people saw. And for me, at this stage of my career, I don’t need to sugarcoat things,” said Pumaren after the game.
Pumaren, a five-time UAAP champion coach, berated his players after the sorry loss that dropped the Soaring Falcons to sixth place and within a loss of missing the Final Four.
“I say what I see and it’s up to you to accept it. If you go back to your shell, it’s going to speak highly of yourself. But you have to take this as a challenge,” said Pumaren, who is also a nine-time PBA champion as a player. “You prove to yourself that you’re a better player.”
UP solidified its hold of second place with a 7-4 record, pouncing on nine Adamson turnovers in the fourth to hammer out the come-from-behind victory.
Pumaren, Chauca and the Falcons are now faced with a tough road to the semifinals. They need to sweep their last three games to forge a playoff for a Final Four berth.
“We’re still in [the hunt], but everything depends on us,” said Pumaren.
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