DESPITE losing in his coaching debut with University of the East, Derrick Pumaren said he is satisfied with the showing of the Red Warriors during their Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup debut.
The Red Warriors fell to the La Salle Green Archers, 62-69, on Saturday, but not after giving the reigning UAAP champions some scary moments during the game.
La Salle took an early double-digit lead in the first quarter but UE was able to cut the deficit to four by halftime. The Warriors even took a 53-49 lead entering the fourth after a 9-2 run in the third before falling short in the end.
Still, Pumaren gave the team a ‘passing mark’ for its overall effort in the game, just two weeks after he was hired to replace Boycie Zamar as UE head coach.
“As I’ve told my boys, with just 12 days of practice, they got a passing grade from me,” said Pumaren after the game.
The veteran mentor admitted UE remains in transition as it tries to learn his system, which puts emphasis on defense. He said it was obvious the players were still trying to grasp his offensive plays, but Pumaren was happy with the defensive effort.
“We were struggling or sometimes confused offensively. But on defense, we did a lot better compared to our offense,” said Pumaren.
“We really don’t play one-on-one on defense. It is more of helping each other and trusting their teammates. Our defense is our number one offense and I think with tonight's game, with the way we played defense, even though hindi pa pulido, I'm happy with the way they played,” he said.
UE will have more time to adjust as it next plays Perpetual Help on May 7.
“It’s still a long way to go. Hopefully, we can continue to improve and grasp the system right away,” said Pumaren.