Adamson head coach Kenneth Duremdes. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Adamson's rookie head coach Kenneth Duremdes is setting some very modest goals for the Soaring Falcons as they enter the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament in rebuilding mode.
The Falcons, who are still adjusting to the new system brought in by Duremdes, suffered a blow so close to the season when star guard Jericho Cruz opted not to play in his final season and instead go to the PBA.
With a team that features 11 rookies and only three veteran players, Duremdes said they are rebuilding and treating the season as a learning process.
"With Jericho's exit, kinausap namin 'yung mga players. We told them na we'll be missing Jericho, wala na 'yung leader natin, wala na 'yung number one scorer natin. But then again, on a positive note, this will bring you all on a learning process together, in a quicker way," said Duremdes.
"Lahat kayo, sabay-sabay mag-grow. Wala na kayong iniilagang veteran. Ngayon, mararamdaman niyo na lahat kayo responsible, lahat kayo leader, at lahat kayo, go-to guy when needed," he added.
Players like Ryan Monteclaro, Don Trollano and Jansen Rios – who were role players in last year's campaign – are now being called upon to be the leaders of the young Adamson squad.
Duremdes insists that they will not depend on the three too much, however.
"We're still depending on team work and team effort on both ends. Wala kaming go-to guy ngayon. Ang lagi naming sinasabi sa kanila is, share the ball, trust each other, have good team work, and we have a good chance," said the coach.
Duremdes said they will be happy if they can be competitive in every game that they play in, considering how young their roster is.
"Honestly, masaya na kami na maka-compete kami every day, every game," he said. "Masaya na kaming coaches and of course the whole community na nakikita na ang team ay lumalaban, whether manalo kami or matalo, as long as nakikita namin talaga na lumalaban at nagi-improve every game."
"Bonus na lang sa amin kung mayroon kaming ma-upset," he said.
He also stressed that as much as this season will be a learning process for his team, it will also be a learning process for him as he is a rookie head coach as well.
"We're rebuilding, and we're on a learning process (that goes) both ways. We learn from them as coaches because this is our rookie year as coaches in UAAP basketball, and they learn from us," said Duremdes.
"So ang maganda dito is, nakikita namin na nagi-improve sila every day, so whether we win games or lose more games in this coming season, the most important thing for us is that every practice and every game, nakikita namin na nagi-improve sila," he added.
"That way, we feel that we're effective as coaches."
Adamson will start their season on July 13 against the Ateneo Blue Eagles at 2 p.m.