By Jerome Lagunzad
Amid all uncertainties that University of the East men’s basketball team is facing these days, star wingman Alvin Pasaol won’t walk away from the Red Warriors’ camp.
“Buo pa rin ang puso at isip ko na maglalaro ako sa UE,” the 6-foot-3 Pasaol told Tempo-Bulletin recently, reaffirming his commitment to the Recto-based squad which has yet to find a suitable replacement for veteran tactician Derrick Pumaren who stepped down last December after four years in charge.
For the meantime, Lady Warriors assistant coach Melvin Reyes is leading UE’s training sessions on an interim basis as the team management continues its search process, with former Kia mentor Chris Gavina emerging as the top candidate.
Aside from finding stability on their coaching position, the Red Warriors are also lagging behind in recruitment wars and, without a doubt, are in race against time to fast track their cohesion and chemistry with the UAAP Season 81 men’s cage battle slated in September.
That’s why Pasaol, 22, and the rest of his fellow Red Warriors have no other choice but to make do with what’s on hand as they try to help UE, once the golden standard in collegiate cage scene, regain its lost glory since last winning the crown in 1985.
“Kailangan na lang namin doblehin yung sipag at tiyaga kasi nakasalalay pa rin naman ‘yung team sa amin kung ano ang mararating namin,” said the Davao City native.
Aside from Pasaol who exploded for 49 points against La Salle, expected to make another tour of duty with UE are veterans veteran guard Philip Manalang, sophomore Mark Maloles, Jayson Varilla and key returnee Omar Larupay.
But the Red Warriors still have to plug a big hole in the middle.
“Big man talaga ang problema namin,” stressed Pasaol. “‘Yung wings and guards naman okay pa kami. ‘Yung big man, wala talaga. At kailangan pa namin ‘yung dominant kasi may imports na rin lahat ng makakalaban namin.”
Whether Pasaol’s wish will be granted in earnest remains to be seen. But all the Red Warriors could do, for now, is start putting in the work.
“Personal training na lang tsaka ‘yung mga pinapagawa ni coach Koy (Banal) dito sa Marinero, kung ano man ang napupulot ko, ‘yun na rin ang pinapagawa ko sa team namin minsan,” said Pasaol, who’s suiting up for the Skippers in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.