UE head coach Derrick Pumaren. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – University of the East (UE) point guard Roi Sumang could not find the words to explain why the Red Warriors are now struggling at the UAAP men's basketball tournament after such a bright start.
UE started Season 77 with back-to-back victories against cellar-dwellers University of the Philippines and Adamson University but have lost their past two games against defending champions La Salle and Far Eastern University (FEU).
In both contests, the Red Warriors took early leads only to fall apart and run out of steam in the second half.
"Talo talaga kami, 'yun lang," Sumang told reporters after their 63-73 setback to FEU that dropped them to 2-2. "Hindi ko din alam eh."
"Hindi ko rin alam 'yung nangyayari. Sumasakit na rin ulo ko dun eh," he added.
Sumang, who made the Mythical Five in Season 76, has not lived up to his considerable standards this year. He especially struggled against FEU, scoring only seven points and making only one of his 13 field goal attempts.
At times it seemed that the Red Warriors were better without him on the floor, as UE had established a double-digit lead in the first half with him – and center Charles Mammie – on the bench.
"Siguro ako nga ang may problema," said Sumang. "Kailangan ko ulit mag-trabaho sa court."
Sumang did try to explain his team's struggles, especially in the fourth quarter, saying: "Okay naman ang lahat eh. Siguro 'yung defense lang namin sa fourth quarter, nagka-clog na eh."
"Wala na gusto kumuha ng bola," he added.
The Red Warriors will have a chance to bounce back against the league-leading National University Bulldogs on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.