ON his first day of practice with the University of the East Red Warriors, Derrick Pumaren admitted he wasn't even familiar with the names of some of the players, having been out of the college basketball scene for quite some time now.
But the longtime PBA coach remained confident the Red Warriors can still form a formidable team for the Season 77 of the UAAP despite time not being on their side.
“All I can say is time is not on our side,” said Pumaren in an interview with Spin.ph on Friday, a day after his appointment was announced by UE oficials. “May Filoil (preseason tournament) na this month and I have to work with the team for less than three months tapos lalaro na sa UAAP. My problem is time.
“It’s not easy. Nobody said it’s easy. But it can be done,” Pumaren said.
Pumaren, who won two championships with the RFM Corporation franchise in the PBA in 1995, replaced Boycie Zamar for the coaching post at UE, which fell one game short of making the Final Four in Season 76.
‘Manong Derrick’ will make his return to coaching since handling Talk ‘N Text in 2008. He also coached a club team in Hong Kong in the previous years while being a consultant of the country’s national team.
However, Pumaren last coached a collegiate team in the 1990s when he handled the De La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP.
Pumaren said he is grateful to UE for a chance at coaching the Red Warriors, having played for the school in the late 1970s.
“I’m back to where I started. How can I refuse? Kasi UE din ako galing. That’s where I started my career. When they offered the job, I accepted,” said Pumaren, the third member of the family to handle the UE Red Warriors after father Pilo in the post-Baby Dalupan years and Dindo from 2003 to 2008.
Incidentally, Dindo will also make his return to UE, having been named as one of Derrick’s assistant coaches alongside fellow former PBA cager Noynoy Falcasantos.
At this point, Derrick refused to make an assessment of the Red Warriors in a season where the school will be the UAAP host.
“I just started today. In fact, hindi ko pa nga sila kilala kaya hindi ko masabi. But they have some materials and pieces there. Kaya lang, getting-to-know stages pa. Even their names, I don’t know,” Derrick said.