AS Air21 pursues a pair of major trades, Express coach Franz Pumaren admitted his team won’t stand a chance against elite ball clubs in the PBA unless the Express "upgrade their roster."
The veteran Pumaren voiced his sentiments two days after the Express suffered their worst loss of the Governors Cup, an 86-112 beating at the hands of Petron Blaze while two major trades involving the team remain pending.
"At the end of the day, we still need the type of people who are aggressive, havea high basketball IQ and are very competitive," Pumaren told Spin.ph just before the team's practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center on Friday.
The second year coach said he isn’t belittling his current roster, but insisted the Express need to keep improving their lineup to keep pace with marquee teams such as Petron, San Mig Coffee, reigning Commissioner’s Cup champion Alaska, and Talk ‘N Text.
“Just consider our game against Petron. When I had to change some of our starters, or nagka-foul trouble, halos wala eh, nag-iba na laro namin. Which means, kulang pa talaga ang team namin. I feel the energy goes down kapag nagpapalit kami ng tao,” explained Pumaren.
In Pumaren’s baptism of fire as a rookie coach last season, Air21 won just a total of five out of 32 games. But he has so far led the Express to two quarterfinal appearances this season.
“You just have to understand that at this point, I’m still searching for the right ingredient so to speak for the team. Halos zero kasi kami when I came in last year. Di kagaya ng ibang teams na they have the type of players they needed to win,” he added.
But at the moment, Pumaren declined to comment on the reported trade Air21 and Meralco are currently discussing involving Express point guard Mike Cortez and Bolts shooting guard MacMac Cardona.
Both players incidentally, played under Pumaren when he was still coach of La Salle in the UAAP.
The Express are also looking to bring in Joseph Yeo from Petron and Kerby Raymundo from Barangay Ginebra under a three-team deal that he said is pending as "we are still ironing out some kinks."