Derrick Pumaren vows UE won't take improving UP squad lightly as winless UAAP teams clash
Only one between Bo Perasol's UP team and Derrick Pumaren's UE squad will remain winless after Wednesday. Jerome Ascano, Jaime Campos

ONE team will finally break into the win column as University of the East and University of the Philippines clash on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament.

The Red Warriors and the Fighting Maroons battle at 2 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Both teams are off to a stumbling start, losing their first three games of the season. UE fell to reigning champion Far Eastern University, 67-59, last Sunday, while UP bowed to University of Santo Tomas, 83-77.

UE coach Derrick Pumaren won’t take UP lightly in the match between winless squads.

“We are in this hole right now and we just need to climb out of it,” said Pumaren. “The important thing is not to underestimate UP. It’s not going to be a walk in the park. We just have to come out and be ready.”

Despite the winless start, Pumaren isn’t pushing the panic button yet even as he has labeled his squad as a Final Four team during the preseason.

“We are not out of it. We are 0-3. The season is still young. But hey, we have to move,” said Pumaren.

Mark Olayon topscored for UE in the loss to FEU with 12 points but needs support from his other teammates going into the match against UP.

On the other hand, the Maroons were in the thick of the fight against the Growling Tigers only to lose steam and dropped their third game by only six points. Jett Manuel led UP with 19 points and Paul Desiderio had an all-around effort of 10 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.

UP has reasons to be happy with the team’s effort in its previous game as several players contributed for the Maroons, including rookie Javi Gomez De Liano, who had 12 points. Diego Dario also finally got a breakout game for UP after finishing with 14 markers.

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Standings: DLSU 4-0, NU 2-1, AdU 2-1, ADMU 2-2, FEU 2-2, UST 2-2, UP 0-3, UE 0-3.

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