UAAP: Pumaren happy to see Malick Diouf thriving in UP
MANILA, Philippines — Despite absorbing a frustrating defeat to University of the Philippines, La Salle coach Derick Pumaren was happy to play against his former player Malick Diouf in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament.
La Salle failed to answer UP’s fourth quarter fightback, led by Zavier Lucero, suffering a 59-61 loss on Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Although Pumaren was disappointed with their second setback in the last three games, he was glad to see Diouf on the other side three years after the two steered Centro Escolar University the 2019 National Capital Region Athletic Association championship and a runner-up finish in the PBA D-League.
“I’m happy where he is right now. He is doing well. I hope he continues to improve his game. There’s still a long way for him. The upside is very high for him. He didn’t play well offensively tonight, maybe he got conscious,” said Pumaren with a laugh after the Senegalese shot 2-of-12.
“But joking aside, he’s a presence there. He will rebound, he will do a lot of little things, not just scoring,” he added.
The 6-foot-11 center finished with seven points and seven rebounds against his former coach. Both had a chance to talk to each other after their duel.
“I told him it’s a good game for him. Just keep it up. We just had to embrace each other. It’s been two years. I was the one who got him in for CEU and developed him to where he is right now,” Pumaren said.
However, the La Salle coach couldn’t hide his frustration after their fourth quarter collapse.
“We played not to lose when we got that seven-point lead. We became tentative and we just started to protect the lead. We shouldn’t have done that. UP made a run, we didn’t do a good job blocking out on the rebounds,” he said. “We got outworked by Lucero on the offensive glass. we should’ve put a body on him. I think that kept them in the game and won them the game, the offensive rebounds.”
Pumaren added that his guards Evan Nelle and Mark Nonoy were not 100 percent against UP but it shouldn’t be an excuse.
“They’re hurt. Hopefully we can rest them in practice and ready them for Saturday. Mark and Evan are not 100 percent but it’s not an excuse,” he said.
The Green Archers, who are 4-2 in the third seed, seek to end their first round with a bounce back win against the Adamson Falcons on Saturday.
“We still have a lot of things to do. We cannot sulk on this loss and learn from the mistakes that we made,” Pumaren said.