LA Salle piled on Adamson's woes, edging the erstwhile league-leaders in overtime, 79-78, to barge in the top four at the end of the first round of the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball tournament Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Aljun Melecio was the biggest man on the floor, taking the cudgels as he scored the game-tying floater at the end of regulation before his runner put his side up, 75-67 with 1:06 remaining in the extra period.
The win, however, almost fell out of La Salle's grip as Adamson staged a big fightback, with Simon Camacho, Sean Manganti, and Jerrick Ahanmisi all willing their team back in the endgame, cutting the lead down to one, 79-78, with five-tenths of a second left to play.
Unfortunately, the rally was just too little too late for the Soaring Falcons as Melecio intentionally missed his freebies as time expired.
The UAAP Season 79 Rookie of the Year lit up for 22 points, none bigger than his heroics in the endgame, to go with four rebounds and two assists as La Salle took solo fourth with its 4-3 slate.
Justine Baltazar pumped a double-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks in the win.
Santi Santillan also came off the bench and uncorked 16 points, nine boards, three assists, and two rejections as he commandeered the Green Archers' fightback from seven-points down early in the fourth quarter and five with three minutes left thanks to his big triple that made it a two-point game, 64-62 with 2:26 left before Melecio took over.
"Talagang itong game na ito, it boiled down sa preparation namin," remarked coach Louie Gonzalez.
"After nung talo namin sa Ateneo, back to basics kami. We made sure na yung learnings namin sa game na yun, ma-correct na namin. This is the end of the round na, kailangan na namin lumaban na."
It was a tough loss for Adamson, which suffered back-to-back defeats after starting the season hot at 5-0.
The chances were there, yet the Soaring Falcons botched their numerous cracks at the basket at the end of regulation and still gave La Salle one last chance, leading to Andrei Caracut going for a desperation three which went short as time expired.
Ahanmisi paced Adamson with 27 points and seven rebounds, while Manganti got 23 points and seven boards.
Papi Sarr had nine and 14 in the losing cause.
LA SALLE 79 – Melecio 22, Santillan 16, Baltazar 16, Caracut 8, Montalbo 8, Serrano 5, Bates 2, Manuel 2, Dyke 0, Go 0.
ADAMSON 78 – Ahanmisi 27, Manganti 23, Sarr 9, Catapusan 5, Camacho 4, Lastimosa 3, Bernardo 2, Colonia 2, Espeleta 2, V. Magbuhos 1, Pingoy 0, Mojica 0.
Quarters: 22-16, 33-32, 49-49, 64-64, 79-78.