MANILA, Philippines -- For Adamson University head coach Franz Pumaren, the continuous improvement of point guard Jerom Lastimosa is proof that their player development program works.
The guard from Dumaguete had his coming out party in Adamson's Final 4 series against University of the Philippines in Season 81, when he memorably drilled a three-pointer that forced overtime. The Fighting Maroons eventually came away with a slim 89-87 victory, thanks to Paul Desiderio's heroics.
Lastimosa took a step back in Season 82 when Adamson added Fil-Peruvian one-and-done guard Val Chauca, but Pumaren still considers him one of the most successful products of their program.
"Who would think, who would recognize Jerom Lastimosa?" Pumaren said during a recent appearance on the "Coaches Unfiltered" podcast.
"You know, he came from the province, a small school," he added. "But now, probably, this coming UAAP he'll be the top 3, top 4 point guards this coming season."
In Season 82, Lastimosa averaged 8.5 points, 4 rebounds, 3.21 assists, and 1.43 steals while playing just under 21 minutes per game. The Soaring Falcons were unable to duplicate their success from the previous year, however. They managed just a 4-10 record, and missed the Final 4 for the first time since Pumaren took over.
The multi-titled coach is optimistic that they can return to their winning ways in Season 83. Their top scorer, Jerrick Ahanmisi, will return for his final year, and Lastimosa will have a bigger role in the team with Chauca having graduated.
"I think everybody will be surprised come next year. I assure you… he (Lastimosa) will surprise a lot," said Pumaren. "People will start talking about Lastimosa come next year."
The next season of the UAAP is expected to start in early 2021.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).