UE head coach Derrick Pumaren. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA – University of the East (UE) coach Derrick Pumaren was less than thrilled with his players' performance against the Adamson Falcons last weekend and emphasized the need for a sense of urgency with the UAAP elimination round coming to a close.
The Red Warriors could not shake off the Falcons for most of the game and only a hail of three-pointers in the fourth quarter allowed them to gain some separation en route to a 72-59 victory.
"I don't think the guys were ready. I don't think they came out to play," Pumaren said after the game. "They didn't play hard, especially at the start, and they were taking Adamson for granted."
UE was still able to pull out the victory, which puts their record at 5-5 and keeps their Final Four hopes alive.
"As I told the team, we still have a shot. We still have a chance, but we cannot play the way we played (today)," said Pumaren. "If that's how we're gonna play against NU and the top teams, then we have to kiss the season goodbye."
"We're still in the hunt for the Final Four, there's still a chance for us to make it to the Final Four, but we have to play a lot better than the way we played (today)," he stressed.
The coach said he has told the players to forget their current record and instead focus on working their way into the semi-finals.
"We talked about it, and we (have to) forget already about the standings. For us, it's like the start of the season, because we have to work our way up now to making the Final Four," Pumaren said.
"That is the mentality that we should have. It starts right now," he said.
Pumaren believes that they can still catch up with National University in the league standings. At the time of the game, NU was at 6-3, but the Bulldogs have since improved to 7-3, tied for third and fourth along with Ateneo.
The coach said they will have to "take care of things" when they play NU on Sunday.
"That will be a battle of positioning for us," he said.