UAAP: Mike Fermin is Adamson’s basketball 'rebuilder'

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on May 20, 2019 05:54 PM
UAAP: Mike Fermin is Adamson’s basketball 'rebuilder'
Without a doubt, "rebuilder" Mike Fermin has not let Adamson down

Just two years after losing the best coach in Juniors basketball, Adamson High School has been rebuilt.

In their most recent campaign, the Baby Falcons barged back into the Final Four for the first time since 2015.

This is the culmination of a two-year trek they had to undertake after head coach Goldwin Monteverde decided to transfer to Nazareth School of National University.

Yes, their playoff return was cut short after falling to the eventual champions in the semifinals.

Nonetheless, Adamson is still the one and only team to have downed the Bullpups - yes, the former was the 1 in the latter's dominant 16-1 season.

NOT SO FAST

That in itself is a badge of honor for a program that, not long ago, had to find somebody to bring it back to where it already was. "Oo naman, proud pa rin kami dun. We played one of our best games nung game na yun," head coach Mike Fermin, that somebody they found, said about their 62-59 overtime triumph over NU in the first round of eliminations.

He then continued, "Yung mga bata, it was not about wanting to prove something, but they just wanted to win. Dahil dun, nasa isip naming hindi naging madali para sa kanila yung championship."

Indeed, if not for that loss, the Bullpups would have had the chance for a season sweep.

Thanks to the likes of Doria brothers Adam and Andrey, Lorenz Capulong, Joem Sabandal, and most importantly, AP Manlapaz, however, the Baby Falcons proved to be the thorn on the side of the eventual champions.

NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP

In the end, that campaign was just what coach Mike needed to prove that the San Marcelino-based squad made the right call by handing him the reins. "It was a successful season for us especially considering na second pa lang namin. Wala nga talaga sa usapan namin ni (Adamson UAAP board representative) Fr. Aldrin [Suan] yung Final Four," he shared.

He then continued, "Sabi lang niya sa amin nun, 'Coach, put up a good team. Wag lang papatambak.' Yung mga ganun lang ba so kahit papaano, we have exceeded his and our own expectations."

Come to think of it, though, team management knew there was one and only one mentor they could trust to rebuild their high school program.

After all, this is not the first time Fermin was, all of a sudden, thrust in a position to guide the blue and white out of the darkness.

NOTHING NEW

Back in 2015, the Soaring Falcons parted ways with then-head coach Kenneth Duremdes.

Named his replacement in the interim was Coach Mike and while they only registered a 3-11 record, that was actually much welcome considering the circumstances.

He took over with just two months to go before the start of the season and then had a team led by then rookie Jaydee Tungcab as well as little-known Nico Capote and Jerome Garcia. They were far from playoff contention, but they actually improved from their one-win season the year prior.

That was Fermin's first and last time calling the shots in the Seniors as Franz Pumaren came to San Marcelino in 2016.

In the same year, however, Coach Mike was tasked to make the Lady Falcons competitive.

He did that, and more, leading their Women's team to the Final Four and in the process, he also discovered and developed standouts such as Nathalie Prado and Kat Araja.

And then, following another coach's exit, Fermin was sent to the Juniors where he wasted no time in harnessing the potential of Sabandal and the Doria twins - former benchwarmers who nonetheless had potential.

The Baby Falcons bench is where he remains - at present, at the very least, as who knows whether or not Adamson would need to call on its tried and tested "rebuilder" anew.

"Adamson lang, they entrust me dun sa teams na medyo walang direksyon and hopefully, maganda naman nagawa natin sa kanila," he said, looking back at all the rebuilds he has overseen. "Natutuwa lang kami sa management at community dahil binibigyan nila kami ng free will. Dahil dun, gusto lang naming i-repay kung anong binibigay nila."

NOBODY BUT YOU

The recipe for success for the "rebuilder" of Adamson? "Yung relationship namin kasi sa players, walang walls. They're free to say kung anong gusto nila and the same thing sa aming coaches, we're open with them," he said.

He then continued, "'Di nila ako coach. Sabi ko nga sa kanila palagi, I'm a teacher and a facilitator sa inyo."

Of course, nothing comes easy - even though he turned around the Lady Falcons in just his first year and turned around the Baby Falcons in only two seasons. "Walang magic dyan. We work hard every day," he said.

And so, whatever game he may be coaching, expect Fermin to put all of his heart into it. As he put it, "Actually, masarap lang talaga mag-coach ng basketball kasi araw-araw, may natutunan kang bago. Nagiging madali rin yung trabaho dahil mahal mo," he said.

Clearly, he has given that love to each and every team he has coached - whether that be the Soaring Falcons or the Lady Falcons or, now, the Baby Falcons.

For all of that, it's high time for San Marcelino to give love to its tried and tested "rebuilder."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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