Seeing Adamson compete—day in and day out—in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament isn’t enough for first-year coach Franz Pumaren.
Teaching the Soaring Falcons learn the art of winning is his main agenda.
Pumaren, 52, will make his much-awaited return to the country’s premier collegiate league for the first time in the last seven years, hoping he can bring to Adamson the same winning tradition that he enjoyed with La Salle, which he led to five UAAP men’s cage titles, highlighted by a ‘four-peat’ romp from 1998 to 2001.
Tapped to revive the school’s basketball program which has been on a downward spiral since 2011 when the Soaring Falcons last reached the Final Four round under Leo Austria, Pumaren is hoping he could serve as the catalyst for Adamson, seen by many as this year’s darkhorse team.
“Mag-champion lang,” was how Pumaren, in jest, expressed the Soaring Falcons’ modest goal on his first year at the helm.
Turning serious, he added: “Hopefully, we can erase the idea of just competing or almost winning we’re already happy. Ever since, even when I was playing or in business, I am a very competitive guy.”
“We’re here to make sure that we’re gonna compete from the opening tip until the final buzzer. I’m just here to make sure that the program’s gonna work, (and) we’re in the right direction.”
Since assuming the post from Mike Fermin who has since slide down as one of his assistants, Pumaren has seen encouraging signs from the Falcons, who are expected to lean heavily on 6-foot-8 Cameroonian import Papi Sarr.
“I think he has improved in a lot of ways,” said Pumaren of his second-year big man. “The way I look at it, he’s a late bloomer. But slowly, it’s sinking on him what we’re trying to teach him.”
Aside from Sarr, the young Falcons side is hoping to draw ample support from the likes of team captain Dawn Ochea, JD Tungcab, former La Salle guard Terrence Mustre and a pair of recruits in Robbie Manalang and Jerrick Ahanmisi, younger brother of Rain or Shine guard Maverick.
“Basically we have about eight rookies. The veterans we have, you can’t probably consider them as veterans except for Papi Sarr who played major minutes last year. The rest didn’t play enough minutes. By name they’re veterans but experience-wise, they’re still rookies,” noted Pumaren.
Having seen notable improvements from the Falcons, who even reached the quarterfinal round of a prestigious summer cage league, Pumaren is optimistic they will do well in the UAAP starting on Sunday when they take on the Fighting Maroons in the opener at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Slowly we’re picking up. If you’re gonna based it on my comment that we’re like a start-up company, if we’re an IPO (initial public offering), medyo nag-increase na ng kaunti ‘yung presyo namin dahil we made it all the way to the quarterfinals (of Filoil) which I think is the highest finish that we accomplished,” he said.
Aside from surpassing the team’s eight-place finish last year when they could only win three games in 14 matches, Pumaren added the new-look Falcons are out to bring excitement to the Adamson community.
“I hope we can give energy to the community. We’re one team that they will be talking about before and after the game because of the excitement that we will bring to you right now,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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