Pumaren sees 'PBA potential' in Jonathan Espeleta, but Falcons cager plays down praise
Jonathan Espeleta's scoring outburst hardly surprised Adamson coach Franz Pumaren. Dante Peralta

FOR a couple of years, Sean Manganti had been Adamson's primary weapon at the forward position.

But with Manganti’s UAAP playing stint done, the Falcons may have found a viable replacement in Jonathan Espeleta after his scoring explosion on Tuesday.

Espeleta fired 24 points, including 19 in the opening period of Akari-Adamson's 98-92 win over Go for Gold in the PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup.

The Fil-Am forward, though, played down his offensive outburst.

"My teammates were just trying to find me because I was hot. I just had to keep shooting, they just happened to fall in," he said after the match at the Pasig City Sports Center.

Akari-Adamson head coach Franz Pumaren, though, was the least surprised with his ward’s scintillating performance. 

Pumaren knew the 6-foot-1 cager is capable of stepping up when needed since the first time he saw the latter play.

Still, the multi-titled mentor couldn't help but marvel at the talent of the third year player, who will be a pivotal piece in Adamson's campaign in the UAAP next season.

"First time he took over for Adamson, I thought he has a lot of potential, PBA potential," Pumaren said. "He just has to be in better shape."

Espeleta, however, pointed out that he feels no pressure filling the void Manganti left as he believes the Falcons will collectively step up their game.

"We know what we're capable of doing. All of us justlook to contribute every night. There's no star player, we're just playing as a team," he said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros