Franz Pumaren is just 2 months into his new job as Adamson head coach and the veteran mentor has identified his mission for the immediate future: change the team’s culture and the players’ mindset.
The Soaring Falcons were tied for last place in Season 78, winning just 3 of 14 games before team management hired Pumaren, who steered La Salle to 4 straight UAAP championships almost 2 decades ago.
Now that he’s manning the sidelines in San Marcelino, he has seemed to have understood why Adamson has struggled the past few seasons.
“You know, they have to get out of their comfort zones,” he told FOX Sports. “They just cannot be satisfied with just playing and wearing the uniform. We have to develop the character of each individual. We have to develop the mental toughness.”
Incoming sophomore JD Tungcab, veteran Dawn Ochea and African reinforcement Papi Sarr will be the cornerstones as Pumaren tries to mold Adamson into a competitive unit come Season 79 in September.
The former PBA coach maintains recruitment will be the best approach to add talent and with the support team sponsor Akari has given him, Pumaren has gone on trips in and out of the country to scour for prospects.
“We do have incoming recruits,” he said. “I think Jerrick Ahanmisi can really help us. He was here. He liked the system. I think he will benefit from my system. We can maximize his potential.”
Jerrick is the 18-year-old brother of PBA rookie Maverick Ahanmisi, who was selected 3rd by Rain or Shine in the 2015 Draft and has shown flashes of brilliance in his short career so far.
After trimming his pool from more than 40 hopefuls to 22, Pumaren said he and the Soaring Falcons will participate in as many tournaments as possible to develop chemistry and in-game maturity.
“That’s the only way I think we can improve and form a competitive scenario,” he said, while adding he might bring Adamson to pocket tourneys in China and Hong Kong.
“We might go on an Asian swing by June,” he added. “I’m wishing that with 7 months to go, they can easily adapt to what we’re trying to do.”
With a war chest that could rival some of the top hoops programs in college, Pumaren has his work cut out for him.
But for now, it all boils down to changing the team culture and the players’ mindset.
“We want to change the landscape here,” he stressed. “They’re probably just happy to be part of the UAAP. We have to be tougher and we have to be mentally prepared for each game.”
“If you look at the last UAAP, several games that they lost were close ones. Just imagine if they were mentally tough, they could have won those games.” — By Josiah Albelda and Mac Dionisio