Falcons Oust Stags In PCCL

Jericho Cruz sizzled for 37 points as Adamson ended the reign of San Sebastian with an 88-79 victory to inch closer towards a Final Four berth in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League yesterday at The Arena in San Juan.

Cruz, who has produced explosive games since the Metro Manila qualifiers, led a furious fourth quarter run to help the Falcons pull away from a tight battle that saw the San Marcelino-based squad take a 63-62 lead entering the payoff period.

With the win, Adamson needs just one victory to complete an unlikely berth in the round-robin semifinals of the annual tournament that determines the country's best collegiate team.

Adamson will face either University of Santo Tomas for the right to join UAAP champion Ateneo, NCAA titlist San Beda and CESAFI winner and Southern Islands bracket representative Southwestern University in the semis.

The round-robin semis starts on Wednesday.

The Growling Tigers defeated Letran, 78-73, in the other game behind 14 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals from Karim Abdul to arrange a 4 p.m. showdown with the Falcons.

UAAP juniors' champion FEU-Diliman and CESAFI winner Sacred Heart School play in the 2 p.m. opener in a benefit game for the ''Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig'' project of the ABS-CBN Foundation.

The Falcons were a disappointment in the recent UAAP season, winning just three games for a sixth place finish.

But things appeared well for the team after dominating the Metro Manila qualifiers, defeating Centro Escolar University, Philippine Merchant Marine School and Mapua with ease to reach the Sweet 16.

Behind Cruz, Adamson routed Jose Rizal University and unheralded La Finns Scholastica of San Fernando, La Union in the first two rounds of the qualifiers held in Tanauan City, Batangas.

A week later, the Falcons went to Cebu City where they dispatched La Salle, 63-56, on two late threes by veteran Roider Cabrera.

Despite the absence of Eric Camson due to his stint with NLEX in the PBA D-League and Alex Nuyles due to a season-ending shoulder injury, the Falcons continued to draw significant numbers from Rodney Brondial and role players like Celedonio Trollano and Jansen Rios.

The Stags, who played minus Calvin Abueva who is now with Alaska in the PBA, suffered a 75-68 defeat to National University in Cebu City before bowing to the determined Falcons.

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