Coach reminds La Salle: We just tied the series

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2022 02:04 PM

 La Salle head coach Derrick Pumaren. UAAP Media.
La Salle head coach Derrick Pumaren. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- De La Salle University head coach Derrick Pumaren was quick to remind his players that their job is not yet done after the Green Archers snatched a crucial win against the University of the Philippines (UP) on Wednesday.

The Green Archers held on for an 83-80 win against UP in their UAAP Season 84 Final 4 game, forcing a decider for the second and last spot in the championship series.

Pumaren hailed his players for their 40-minute effort against the Fighting Maroons, who were coming off a confidence-boosting triumph against Ateneo but couldn't sustain their momentum against the Green Archers.

"I think the boys really played hard today. I think we played 40 minutes of basketball, we played 40 minutes of solid, disciplined basketball today. That's what I've been asking them to do," said Pumaren.

"We're proud of the way these guys played today. It was really a team effort, everybody was on the same page in today's game," he added.

Yet he also warned that they have not yet accomplished their goal. UP is armed with a twice-to-beat edge, thanks to their second-place finish in the elimination round, and thus they still have one more chance to seal a spot in the finals.

"We're happy that we won the ball game, but we just have to realize also that we only tied the series," Pumaren pointed out. "There's still one more game and we just have to go back to the drawing board after this."

Even with La Salle putting together a 40-minute effort, UP still came close to ousting them from the tournament. The Green Archers saw a 22-point advantage dwindle to three points late, before free throws by Evan Nelle helped them seal the deal.

Pumaren acknowledged that they didn't handle the end game situation as well as they should have. 

"Even me, probably, honestly, we thought that the game was over," he said. "We were trying to milk the time, to use the clock. But we didn't come back on defense, we didn't play solid defense."

"We are just parang protecting the lead and we're waiting for the game to be over. But UP came back, and it was a lesson for us that the game is not over 'til it's over. We just have to be ready for that," he added.

Still, Pumaren believes that the win gives them a slight edge in terms of momentum. It was La Salle's first victory over UP in Season 84, having fallen short in the elimination round twice.

The veteran mentor now wants his team to maximize the momentum and complete an upset of the Fighting Maroons on Friday's do-or-die game.

"We have to make use of that advantage, that momentum. We cannot just come in there and just play, because we have that momentum," said Pumaren. "We just have to work, we just have to practice well tomorrow and prepare, because we know that UP is capable of coming back."

"We expect UP to come back, we expect UP to play a lot better on Friday, the next game. It is our job to be able to hold that, and be able to counter and react to how they're gonna play," he added. 

Already waiting in the best-of-3 finals is defending champion Ateneo de Manila University. 

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