MANILA, Philippines – It seems not too long ago when the Adamson Soaring Falcons were on the cusp of reaching the UAAP Finals.
However, that run now feels like a distant memory as the Franz Pumaren-coached squad continued skidding down the Season 82 standings after a stunning 74-80 loss to the seventh-placed UE Red Warriors.
Just a season removed from having a nine-win difference between each other, the two squads are now both jockeying for playoff position with identical 3-5 records.
Still, the Soaring Falcons' two leading scorers Jerrick Ahanmisi and Val Chauca are not hitting the panic button amid the slump, at least not yet.
"It's just a mental thing most of the time," Ahanmisi said after the game. "I think our rookies still need to step up a little bit, but if not the rookies, then the vets need to step up a bit more."
"For me, it doesn't really bother me that I'm shooting bad," the fourth-year guard continued. "Being how I am, I'm always going to keep on shooting even if I shoot horribly or I don't make any shots, I'm still going to keep shooting the ball."
"But for me and Val, we just got to get that out of our minds that we're shooting bad. We don't really look at the stats, but we're just going to keep on shooting and eventually, they're going to have to go in the basket."
In a game where one-and-done UE guard Rey Suerte tallied 27 points, the Ahanmisi-Chauca duo combined for a measly 20-point total on a frigid 8-of-30 clip.
For Chauca, a one-and-done talent himself, the word complacency is just not in his vocabulary right now.
"Every game, I try to play with a sense of urgency and convey that to the other players," said the Filipino-Peruvian guard.
"We just got to dig deep, take it one game at a time, watch the film, improve, and just not make the same mistakes every single game."
"At this point, a lot has to change," he continued. "We got to shoot it better, got to defend better, and improve in every aspect. If we focus on keeping our fouls low and rebounding the ball well, I think we'll improve."
As both Ahanmisi and Chauca displayed awe-inspiring scoring bursts throughout the season, opposing defenses soon took the hint and placed the tandem dead center in their defensive crosshairs.
However, Ahanmisi refused to use that as an excuse.
"Even if we're marked men already, we still got to find a way to make our shots," said the Season 81 Mythical Five member. "Even if all of them aren't falling, we got to make something happen."
With Adamson now carrying a three-game losing streak, both Ahanmisi and Chauca will have even bigger chips on their shoulders as they try to stun the undefeated Ateneo Blue Eagles on Wednesday, October 9. – Rappler.com