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It’s time for UE to level up – Pumaren

By Jerome Lagunzad

As much as he wants to continue handling the University of the East Red Warriors, veteran tactician Derrick Pumaren admits he will bide his time if he’s going to return or not.

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For now, he is keen on finding out what the school management is planning for the once rock-solid Red Warriors basketball program which has proven no match compared to their UAAP counterparts for nearly a decade.

“I am still thinking if I’m going to renew for next year, depende sa direction ng team,” said Pumaren, who failed to steer UE to the Final Four round for the fourth straight season since he took over the coaching job from Boycie Zamar back in 2014.

Perhaps, Pumaren is eager to see if UE management will soften its stand on “no import policy” that has taken its toll on the Red Warriors since they have remained as the only all-Filipino squad in the eight-team field.

Aside from that, Pumaren wants the school management to strengthen its recruitment program further since most of their UAAP rivals, led by powerhouse La Salle, Ateneo, National University and Adamson, have taken their pitches to another level in recruiting blue-chip talents, both here and abroad.

“Imagine, wala na kaming import, ‘di ba? But when it comes to recruitment naman, getting the local guys, we are, I would say, far compared to the other teams. Maybe we are last, ‘di ba?” he lamented.

“As I’ve said before, I need horses, I need players too. Sometimes I envy other teams. Like, UST has got an import, UP has got an import. Kami kahit isa, wala. It’s so hard to get a 6-7, 6-8 Filipino now, ‘di ba? Saan kami hahanap?

Unless we get a Fil-Am, but the budget is still (not enough). That’s still another story.”

Pumaren also disclosed that top gunner Alvin Pasaol, who exploded for 49 points this season, the best offensive performance in the league in recent memory, was already getting feelers from other schools.

Good thing for the Red Warriors, the 6-foot-3 Pasaol, buoyed by the advice of his family, maintained his loyalty and refused to go somewhere else.

“Sinisilaw nila (si Alvin),” said Pumaren. “Even right after the season last year, he was being recruited too, again.

They tried to get him. Imagine that. At least the loyalty of the mother, na sinabi nga na ‘Huwag niyo nang guluhin dahil may utang na loob ako kay Manong.’ Kung hindi, he’s not here right now.”

Pumaren is hoping that alarming situation could be an eye-opener for UE management as the Red Warriors try to reclaim their lost glory in the UAAP.

“I might have a good program, but still, I have also to have the materials. Hindi pwedeng parang participation lang kami,” said Pumaren.