11 months into his role of Head Coach, Francisco “Franz” Pumaren has accomplished the task of guiding the Adamson Soaring Falcons to the UAAP Final Four. Not only does this represent the team’s first Semis appearance in five years, the Falcons now have a shot at winning a title they haven’t held since 1977.
A veteran of both the PBA and the UAAP, Pumaren is of course best known for steering the DLSU Green Archers to eight Finals appearances that yielded five titles from 1998 to 2009.
“I know for a fact it’s going to be a long haul,” Pumaren told media when his role was announced in December 2015, following a two-year break from coaching. “And our direction, really, is to rebuild our program.”
Pumaren was as good as his word, setting to work on building the squad to turn Adamson’s basketball fortunes around. In the opening game of Season 79, fans saw the result of the rebuilding effort as rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi racked up a 28-point game, including six three-pointers, for a 104-85 win over the UP Fighting Maroons. Alongside Ahanmisi were the likes of the returning Papi Sarr, JD Tungcab and Harold Ng, as well as a cast of largely new faces, including Jonathan Espeleta, Frederick Pasturan, Terrence Mustre (himself a former Green Archer), Robbie Manalang, and Nicholas Paranada.
Two games later, Adamson surprised everyone when they triumphed over the more established Ateneo Blue Eagles, proving that their first win wasn’t a fluke. Now a force to be reckoned with a mere one season after they’d come in dead last, the Falcons were able to secure their Semis berth a full year before Pumaren predicted.
“I think right now, we’re living the dream,” said Pumaren, when asked about the Falcons’ making the Semis. “I think we surprised a lot of basketball fanatics. We were able to fast track everything. We were looking at 2017, we just wanted this year to be competitive, but my players wanted to attend that advance party.”
While Adamson’s loss to Ateneo yesterday relegated the Falcons to fourth seed, whether or not the Pumaren-led team will make the Finals depends on how they fare in their next game against DLSU, which has a twice-to-beat advantage.
At any rate, with the Falcons having already exceeded expectations, and Pumaren refusing to let the pressure get to him, Adamson basketball fans have, for the first time in far, far, too long, something to look forward to.
Image source: Inquirer