2020 from 1991. My goodness!!!!! Thirty years!!!!! How time flies. That’s how long Manong Derrick Pumarens’ coaching journey took for him to return as head coach for the De La Salle Men’s Basketball team, from the last time he headed it.
Well it does show. Probably because of his added weight? Some wrinkles in his face? White hairs? Nah. The dead give away, according to most observers is his fashion sense. Hahaha.
Jacket over polo or t-shirt, slacks or maong pants, espadrilles or loafers, and no socks!!!!! I tell you. That’s an 80s time capsule by any sense of fashion. I should know. I’m the authority. I still dress that way. Bwahahahaha.
Truthfully he has been ribbed about that, time and time again, in tv interviews and on-line podcasts since his UE coaching days when, according to him, he brought his fashion out of his mothballed closet, in the hopes of turning the UE program around. Very player-like. Pamahiin, as this were his clothes when he was winning for La Salle in 1989-91.
It didn’t work. Well not because of the clothes I guess, and I’ll stop there. After his UE stint, he headed the CEU basketball program, and if we follow the pamahiin and his clothes, his winning ways started to come back. Remember, our last Filoil game with them was a dog fight, and he was the only coach who beat the great bald one in a game last year.
Well Manong has been busy these days. Conducting conditioning drills with the team, appearing in podcasts, and….recruiting players. What? It’s a damn pandemic!!!! Recruiting? You read it right guys.
And a very active recruitment at that. Well it did start pre-pandemic times and it started with a bang. Evan Nelle. That’s proven quality right off the bat.
I am sure, the community has also heard of several high quality names who are either already with the program or joining it. This is very encouraging but guys, I’d rather not name these players yet, even if they are confirmed names for some. Let’s not go into a poker game showing our hand. I know you are excited but let’s wait for the tournament first. That was our mistake in the past. Expectations do not necessarily translate to performance. And teams prepared for us. Remember Langston? He was scouted heavily and defenses were formulated for him. So, easy lang.
Here’s a funnier thing though. Some of us are worried that we are over recruiting. Hahaha, what????? You don’t like that recruits are interested to join our program???? Well I know of a team and a coach who presently has 38 players in their pool!!!! That’s right guys. They have a team b and a team c!!!!!
Manong himself has explained it in several podcasts (I count five so far). Firstly, we have players graduating. Aljun Melecio, Balti Baltazar, plus the three one and dones to start with.
Secondly, we don’t have a team b. If I’m not mistaken, we only had around 5-6 players in waiting. So, our player call ups are few.
Thirdly, Manong has a three year contract. So he is recruiting for at least three years. Continuity was the one factor lacking from our previous player programs, which led to our teams lacking length and ceiling in some years, or lacking foreign players in others. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.
Fourthly and more importantly for me, Coach Pumaren is recruiting players who will fit his system. In the past, we were recruiting the best high school prospects, and most of the time, we got them. But it didn’t translate into a consistent playoff run. We missed the last two, didn’t we?
So, there is now rhyme and reason in the process. Well we all know the Pumaren system. High pressure defense. So he needs players to fit that. If you ask me, I like what I see.
Remember also that Manong has a nose for talent. Jun Limpot was very raw in his rookie year in 1987 when we lost to a Danny Francisco led Ateneo team. He became a franchise player for us. Mac Cardona was a try out discard. Nobody wanted to get him because of that awkward hook shot of his. Ang panget daw. Well we all know what that hook shot gave us.
Guys, we have a proven coach. A coach who has won in all basketball levels including the highest league of the land, the PBA. Well he has that over his brothers and remember, he was still consultant when brother Franz started his championship run after him.
Most importantly, he is one of us. He bleeds green. He’s back and he means business. He says he is just starting again. I say he’s picking up where he left off.
Welcome back Manong. Hopefully, as in the Michael J.Fox movie franchise, we’re Back to the Future. That’s both a hope…and a prophesy.