UE Red Warriors out to do more with less in new season
Paul Lintag on Sep 02, 2015 09:05 PM
"We'll just be quiet and try to surprise everybody." - UE head coach Derrick Pumaren as his Red Warriors head into the new season with lowered expectations but not lowered goals.
For the last two seasons, the UE Red Warriors have failed to reach the postseason with a line-up that on paper, should be worth at least one trip to the Final Four.
For Season 78, with a roster that looks like a "high school team," the Red Warriors look to do more with less and shock the league altogether with 90-feet of suffocating defense as their bread and butter.
Even without Roi Sumang, Dan Alberto and Charles Mammie, head coach Derrick Pumaren, who is in his second year with the team, likes to think that there will be no problems for his wards.
That is despite going all Filipino and featuring nine rookies, with five freshmen, in the roster.
"I think we are a better team from what others think of us,"Â Pumaren told ABS-CBN Sports.
Pumaren, who took over the UE program in April last year, adds that the longer preparation brought about by the UAAP adjusting its schedule benefits the Red Warriors in their continued quest to return to the Final Four.
To achieve that, they plan to shut down everybody, wrecking havoc by playing 40 minutes of intense defense.
"We are a better defensive team this time. Mas maganda ang takbo, mas maganda ang depensa. They [players] know the importance of it," Pumaren said. "They've embraced it. Our number one offense is our defense, we don't want [other] teams coming down and overpowering us [just] because they are bigger."
With their defensive game already in place, veterans are about to take over on the other end to make sure the Red Warriors have enough fire power.
Paul Varilla has been handed the keys to the UE offense while senior Chris Javier returns as the team's versatile big.
With the departure of their top two point guards from Season 77, Pumaren was able to recruit what he thinks are the top two prospects from the junior ranks to run his squad in Philip Manalang and Fran Yu.
"I would say that those two guys are pure point guards. They are there to orchestrate and be my second thinking on the floor," the veteran coach said.
Burdened by the pressure of being hosts last year, the UE Red Warriors are going back to basics.
By going all-Filipino and stacking up on young talent to mix with their hungry veterans, the Warriors look to win more with less in Season 78 after two years of coming up short with big expectations.
"We're still looking looking at the Final Four, I'll be lying if we're not aiming for that," Pumaren said. "But we'll just be quiet and try to surprise everybody."
The Red Warriors will take on hosts UP Fighting Maroons to begin Season 78 on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum. The game will be broadcast LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports+Action Channel 23 at 2:00 PM and will also be streamed LIVE on sports.abs-cbn.com.
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