[Here's Part VI of our special preview for UAAP Season 79]
Season 78 review: Finished tied with UP for last in the eliminations on 3-11 win-loss records
Key holdovers: Papi Sarr, JD Tungcab, Dawn Ochea, Harold Ng
Key losses: Joseph Nalos, William Polican, Ivan Villanueva
Newcomers: Robbie Manalang, Jerick Ahanmisi, Sean Macanti, Terrence Mustre
FRANZ Pumaren was quick to temper expectations for the Adamson Falcons after he took over as head coach of a school that has struggled to put up a winning season for several years now.
“I’m just here to make sure that the program is going to work and we are in the right direction,” Pumaren said.
The Falcons look to soar like before with a champion coach at the helm in Pumaren, who is returning to the college basketball scene after giving the Green Archers five UAAP titles in the late 1990s and 2000s. But the veteran mentor said he is not expecting the Falcons to figure in the title chase.
Not yet anyway.
“I’m not trying to sound sort of downplaying our chances. It’s different here. I only have two or three recruits. We have players who have been with the program for two or three years,” said Pumaren, adding he expects to have his 'own team' in place at Adamson in the near future.
“Maybe in 2017, the team will be my recruits,” he said.
The Falcons squad for Season 79 will have eight rookies and eight veterans but Pumaren still sees an inexperienced team for this year, with only Papi Sarr as the only true seasoned player in his roster.
Among the holdovers in the squad are Dawn Ochea, JD Tungcab, and Khristian Bernardo but most of them only played limited minutes in the past season.
“I must say that the veterans that we have, you can’t even classify them as veterans maybe except for Papi Sarr, who played major minutes last year. By name, they are veterans, but experience-wise, they are still rookies,” said Pumaren.
The Falcons, however, have impressive newcomers in the squad led by Robbie Manalang, who showed glimpses of his shooting ability, and Jerick Ahanmisi, brother of Rain or Shine freshman Maverick. Sean Macanti can also provide a one-two punch in the frontcourt with Sarr.
Coming from a winning program with La Salle, Pumaren understands that it is going to be a process in forming a champion team with Adamson.
“Slowly, we are picking up. If you are going to base it on being a start-up company, nag-iincrease na ng konti ‘yung presyo namin kasi umakyat kami sa quarterfinals during the summer,” said Pumaren, referring to their Filoil preseason campaign.
Following the preseason result, Pumaren only hopes that the Falcons gain respectability for this season.
“We just have a modest goal. Hopefully, we can compete. I hope we erase the idea that just competing or almost winning, we are happy already. I’m a competitive guy. We have to make sure that we compete until the final buzzer. Hopefully, we could give energy to the community,” he said.