UE head coach Derrick Pumaren. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – University of the East (UE) head coach Derrick Pumaren hopes his players can remain positive even though the Red Warriors are mired in a three-game losing streak that has seen them run out of gas after taking early leads.
In each of their three losses, the Red Warriors took control of the game early and even led by double-digits. But each time, they allowed their opponents to come back in the game and were out-executed in crunch time.
Against the league-leading National University (NU) last weekend, UE again took an early lead using their press, but when the pace of the game slowed down, it was the Bulldogs who were able to take advantage.
"I think the message is that we try to stay positive," Pumaren said when asked about his players' level of confidence. "We lost the battle, we've lost three battles right now, but the war is not over yet."
"We're still in pretty good shape," he insisted. "We just have to come out and try to get a third win on Sunday against Ateneo, and then take it from there and play UST."
Asked about what went wrong in their game against the Bulldogs, Pumaren said his players "took for granted the little things."
"We had the game by our hand, but we let it slip away. We didn't block out. I've told them time and again – those little things will win ball games for us," he said. "But they just took it for granted."
"I think it was like five offensive rebounds, all at the same time," Pumaren said, referring to a stretch in the game wherein NU was able to repeatedly extend their possession by grabbing the offensive board, culminating in a back-breaking triple by Gelo Alolino.
"We were not able to get to the ball, and they were able to cash on it," he added.