It’s time for UE to level up – Pumaren

Tempo - - Sports - By JEROME LAGUNZAD

As much as he wants to con­tinue han­dling the Univer­sity of the East Red War­riors, vet­eran tac­ti­cian Der­rick Pumaren ad­mits he will bide his time if he’s go­ing to re­turn or not.

For now, he is keen on find­ing out what the school man­age­ment is planning for the once rock-solid Red War­riors bas­ket­ball pro­gram which has proven no match com­pared to their UAAP coun­ter­parts for nearly a decade.

“I am still think­ing if I’m go­ing to re­new for next year, de­pende sa di­rec­tion ng team,” said Pumaren, who failed to steer UE to the Fi­nal Four round for the fourth straight sea­son since he took over the coach­ing job from Boy­cie Za­mar back in 2014.

Per­haps, Pumaren is ea­ger to see if UE man­age­ment will soften its stand on “no im­port pol­icy” that has taken its toll on the Red War­riors since they have re­mained as the only all-Filipino squad in the eight-team field.

Aside from that, Pumaren wants the school man­age­ment to strengthen its re­cruit­ment pro­gram fur­ther since most of their UAAP ri­vals, led by pow­er­house La Salle, Ate­neo, Na­tional Univer­sity and Adam­son, have taken their pitches to an­other level in re­cruit­ing blue-chip tal­ents, both here and abroad.

“Imag­ine, wala na kam­ing im­port, ‘di ba? But when it comes to re­cruit­ment na­man, get­ting the lo­cal guys, we are, I would say, far com­pared to the other teams. Maybe we are last, ‘di ba?” he lamented.

“As I’ve said be­fore, I need horses, I need play­ers too. Some­times I envy other teams. Like, UST has got an im­port, UP has got an im­port. Kami kahit isa, wala. It’s so hard to get a 6-7, 6-8 Filipino now, ‘di ba? Saan kami ha­hanap? Un­less we get a Fil-Am, but the bud­get is still (not enough). That’s still an­other story.”

Pumaren also dis­closed that top gun­ner Alvin Pasaol, who ex­ploded for 49 points this sea­son, the best of­fen­sive per­for­mance in the league in re­cent mem­ory, was al­ready get­ting feel­ers from other schools.

Good thing for the Red War­riors, the 6-foot-3 Pasaol, buoyed by the ad­vice of his fam­ily, main­tained

his loy­alty and re­fused to go some­where else.

“Sin­isi­law nila (si Alvin),” said Pumaren. “Even right af­ter the sea­son last year, he was be­ing re­cruited too, again. They tried to get him. Imag­ine that. At least the loy­alty of the mother, na sin­abi nga na ‘Huwag niyo nang gu­luhin dahil may utang na loob ako kay Manong.’ Kung hindi, he’s not here right now.”

Pumaren is hop­ing that alarm­ing sit­u­a­tion could be an eye-opener for UE man­age­ment as the Red War­riors try to re­claim their lost glory in the UAAP. “I might have a good pro­gram, but still, I have also to have the ma­te­ri­als. Hindi pwe­deng parang par­tic­i­pa­tion lang kami,” said Pumaren.

DER­RICK Pumaren

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