The case of Adamson Baby Falcon Encho Serrano

The first of February was supposed to just be the 13th playdate for Season 79 of the UAAP Juniors basketball tournament. There’s been little drama so far, with Adamson seemingly on a clear path to the Juniors Division championship.

But that all changed this morning, when Adamson’s dreams of a championship were crushed by a memo released by the UAAP.

In that memo, the UAAP Board declared that Encho Serrano of the Adamson Baby Falcons was deemed ineligible to play for UAAP Season 79. Mr. Rodrigo M. Roque Chairman of the Eligibility Committee stated that, “[A]ll games where Mr. Serrano played are therefore, FORFEITED, in accordance with existing UAAP Rules & Regulations.”

Once this memo was released by the UAAP, a number of questions started to circulate. What does this mean? How does the ruling affect Adamson? How does the ruling affect the rest of the league? Who’s Encho Serrano in the first place?

We’re here to answer those questions and more.

Who’s Encho Serrano?

Encho Serrano is a 17-year-old Pampanga native who plays for the Adamson Baby Falcons. He plays as a combo forward for the Baby Falcons, even though he stands at a mere 5’11”.

Serrano ended up in Manila when he first tried out for the UE Junior Warriors team. However, he wasn’t accepted, so he went elsewhere. He ended up in Malayan High School of Science, but chose to go elsewhere after a year because he wasn’t getting enough support. Serrano then tried out for La Salle Greenhills, but was left off their line-up in the NCAA. He finally ended up in San Marcelino, where he found a home in Adamson.

For the Baby Falcons, Serrano played not as a ball-dominant player, but as someone who played off the ball. He was efficient, relying on a lot on baskets down low to score for his team. Serrano also used his well-built frame to grab rebounds, a clear manifestation of his hard-working attitude. All of this resulted in him leapfrogging MVP favorites SJ Belangel and Juan Gomez de Liano after the first round. Adamson wasn’t only projected to win the title, but they were also seen as having the MVP in their team.

Not anymore.

What exactly is the reason for Serrano’s ineligibility?

The memo by the UAAP mentioned the following:

“Mr. Serrano failed to submit the required Secondary Student’s Permanent Record that would show/indicate his complete high school enrollments/records/credentials.”

The UAAP Board then voted on this, with all of the Member Universities duly represented declaring that Serrano was now ineligible to play for Season 79.

What does the ineligibility mean for Serrano?

Quite simply, Serrano can no longer play for the rest of Season 79. As simple as that. His MVP contention is considered futile as well, since he is ineligible for the season, in the first place.

What does Serrano’s ineligibility mean for the Adamson Baby Falcons?

The title dreams the Baby Falcons have? They’re no more.

Since Serrano played all of the games which the Baby Falcons had prior to February 1, the Baby Falcons wound up with a 0-12 record coming into Wednesday. All the games which Adamson won are now considered as losses, therefore the games other teams lost against Adamson are now considered wins for them. After the Wednesday playdate, the standings are as follows:

NU Bullpups* 12-1
FEU Baby Tamaraws* 11-2
Ateneo Blue Eaglets* 10-3
UST Tiger Cubs 5-8
DLSZ Junior Archers 5-8
UPIS Junior Maroons 5-8
UE Junior Warriors 3-10
Adamson Baby Falcons 1-12
*assured of a Final Four slot

How does the forfeiture of Adamson’s games affect the rest of the league?

The effects are pretty big.

For one, NU winds up as arguably the biggest winners in this situation. They’re now assured of a twice-to-beat advantage, as the worst they can finish come Saturday is second (if they lose to FEU).

FEU’s situation, on the other hand, became a lot more interesting. Now, they can potentially finish first, but at worst, they can finish third.

For Ateneo, the forfeiture gives them a second chance at a twice-to-beat advantage. If they end up beating FEU, they’ll engage in a playoff with the Baby Tamaraws, setting up a virtual best of three between the two teams.

DLSZ, UST and UPIS have been given second chances at a Final Four slot courtesy of the forfeiture. If UST loses against UE at 9am on Saturday, they’re eliminated. The DLSZ-UPIS clash on Saturday then turns into a winner gets into the Final Four situation. If UST wins? DLSZ and UPIS battle for a playoff against UST for the fourth spot.

For the case of UE, they’re officially out of the Final Four race along with Adamson.

How does the ineligibility of Serrano affect the MVP Race?

The MVP Race practically now comes down between two players: SJ Belangel and Juan Gomez de Liano.

It’s easy to point to Belangel as the favorite given his gaudy statistics and the number of wins of Ateneo, but Gomez de Liano has also been performing at an elite level.

Other possible contenders for the award are John Lloyd Clemente of the NU Bullpups and Kenji Roman of the FEU Baby Tamaraws.

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