WITH ace guard Jerom Lastimosa back in the nest for one last flight, Adamson University brims with confidence that it can replicate its magical playoff run in UAAP Season 85 — or put on a better finish this time around.
Soaring Falcons mentor Nash Racela admitted heaving a sigh of relief upon being informed by Mr. Lastimosa himself as early as last week of his decision to stay in San Marcelino, setting the stage for an intact squad raring to spring surprises anew in the UAAP Season 86.
“That’s what he told me before the New Year. It’s welcome news to our team. Still, we have the same goal of trying to crash the Top 4 and hopefully get a better finish,” Mr. Racela told The STAR.
Mr. Lastimosa, after a month of contemplating since Adamson’s Final Four exit in UAAP Season 85, finally broke the news on Tuesday that he will play out his final year with the Soaring Falcons.
That was despite rosy interests and offers for him to go professional abroad, particularly the Korean Basketball League (KBL), where a list of Filipino collegiate standouts is growing led by Rhenz Abando, SJ Belangel, RJ Abarrientos and Dave Ildefonso.
The 24-year-old gunner gained traction from overseas teams following an impressive campaign behind averages of 15.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steal to lead Adamson University to the Final Four.
His best outing was a 22-point eruption in the Soaring Falcons’ 80-76 knockout game win against De La Salle University to clinch the last ticket in the Final Four, where they bowed to eventual champion Ateneo De Manila University, 81-60.
For Mr. Lastimosa, that was the main reason why he opted to come back as he looks to help Adamson University end a long UAAP title drought since last winning in 1977 led by the great Hector Calma — on top of his vow to his parents to finish his studies.
Now, Mr. Lastimosa and the Soaring Falcons set their sights to the ultimate prize with still ample time to prepare before UAAP Season 86 returns to action midway through the year. — John Bryan Ulanday