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Pumaren: Falcons will bounce back

By JEROME LAGUNZAD

Adamson coach Franz Pumaren has been to countless battles that he has already embraced a familiar notion that a sorry setback can set him up for a big comeback.

So he still sounded hopeful that the Falcons can only get better and stronger despite taking another Final Four exit at the hands of defending champion La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament.

Globalport head coach Franz Pumaren (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Globalport head coach Franz Pumaren (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

“It’s a learning experience for us. One year or two years of playing experience in the Final Four, it will be just going to benefit us in the long run,” he said, moments after No. 3 Adamson suffered an 82-75 loss to No. 2 La Salle last Saturday night.

It marked the second straight year that the Archers gave the Falcons the big boot in the semifinal round, but Pumaren felt his wards could have been in a different situation had they didn’t end up on the short end of officiating.

Adamson took control early on and led by as many as 15 points twice in the final period, only to lose its poise – and its double-digit cushion as well – in the face of La Salle’s fightback aided by what Pumaren said was spotty officiating down the stretch.

“I don’t think I was outcoached. I don’t think we got outplayed. It’s so disappointing,” said Pumaren, trying to control his emotions after the Archers trooped to the 15-foot line 39 times, making 26 of those.

In contrast, the Falcons were given just five free throws, sinking two of those while most of their vital cogs, led by Cameroon big man Papi Sarr, were saddled with foul troubles.

“I pity my players, they showed heart for this. Malakas na nga sila (Archers) tapos ‘di ba? The difference…” said Pumaren, shaking his head in disgust about that wide discrepancy in free throw attempts.

While he’s visibly disappointed how things panned out, Pumaren still could not help but be excited on what the future holds for the Falcons, who will be reinforced by plenty of “interesting pieces” who could help fill up the void left by graduating cagers Rob Mañalang, Dawn Ochea and Terrence Mustre.

“(Jonathan) Espeleta will be a much better player. Remember that Tyrus Hill is just a rookie and (Kurt) Lojera is just a rookie. So I think we’ll be a force to reckon with considering the two years of playoff experience which will really help us,” he said.

“Playing in this environment, playing in this situation, it just makes us tougher and we will just make sure we don’t allow them to decide the game for us, for the other team.”

Although the Falcons came up short to reach the Finals and got back at the Archers whom he previously led to five UAAP titles in the past decade, Pumaren told his wards to “hold their heads high. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We just have to be tougher probably next year.”

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