By NIKOLE JAVIER
De La Salle head coach Derrick Pumaren felt his team never got the chance to play as a complete unit all-throughout the season – something he sees as one big reason why they still have to play Adamson in a do-or-die match on Sunday, Dec. 4.
The Green Archers seemed to have been beating around the bush during the elimination round but managed to take care of business in the last stretch to have at least a shot at the last spot in the Final Four.
Finishing with an even 7-7 record in the standings, Pumaren is hopeful to have some of his key players back in time for their knockout match against a dangerous Soaring Falcons side.
“We’re hoping. We’re really banking and preparing him for the knockout game. Hopefully no. Si Kevin sana gumaling na rin,” said Pumaren.
Schonny Winston, who showed the way for La Salle in its earlier campaign, has been sidelined for the duration of the second half of the elimination after suffering a calf injury which he, coincidentally, sustained in their first-round match against Adamson last Oct. 22.
Quiambao and Mike Phillips, likewise, were feeling under the weather during their recent crucial game against University of Santo Tomas last Nov. 30.
Despite the series of hurdles that got them to where they are, the 65-year-old tactician was proud of how the remaining Archers “have been playing really solid basketball in spite and despite.”
Now seeking La Salle’s big break, Pumaren hopes to see a complete lineup for the Archers and flaunt their full potential in the game that would decide their playoff fate.
“We’ve been missing players. Big big part of the team. Our amazing guys namin that’s the story of our season, the 14 games. I think we’re a better team if we got a complete lineup. Safe to say, we were not able to play to our potential as a team, as a group. Because of injury, suspension. Three games yata, two si Evan, one si CJ. We’re not able to play to our potential as a team,” he added.