UAAP: Mystery shrouds La Salle after season-ending loss to Adamson
MANILA, Philippines — La Salle still played with a depleted roster even in its most important game in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball as it bombed out of Final Four contention with an 80-76 loss to Adamson in a playoff game on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
With their season on the line, the Green Archers played without presumptive Rookie of the Year Kevin Quiambao, who tested negative but still didn’t get the clearance to go out of the league’s health and safety protocols. Another key cog in Michael Phillips wasn’t also at the venue for the third straight game as coach Derick Pumaren said the big man was still experiencing dizziness and headaches, while Schonny Winston, the league’s top scorer in the first round before he suffered from a calf injury, was watching from the stands.
“Kevin is positive for COVID. But he tested negative today. But, the protocol for UAAP is seven days of quarantine. So he only had five days. Michael is suffering from… I don’t know. He’s feeling up to now. Right after the NU game, we had to bring him to the hospital,” said Pumaren.
“They ran tests, he was cleared by cardiologists. The cardio is no problem. We had tests for MRI, EEG, and things like that. So far, clear. But he still cannot practice, he’s still suffering from dizziness and headaches. So we’re still trying to trace what’s going on.”
Missing players from injuries, illness, or suspension have been the story of La Salle all season long as it failed to live up to the expectations of being heavy pre-season favorites after ruling the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.
“The disappointing part, as a coach, is not having a full line-up every game. We were not able to show our full potential. From injury, whatever, even suspension, we suffered from all of it. That’s why I’ve been asking for a break, ‘no. But, we got a break, probably God has other plans for us,” said Pumaren.
“We beat UST, but we prayed, we prayed hopefully that Ateneo will win. We were given a second chance, but the thing is, we still didn’t play to our full potential. I was expecting at least two guys will play, at least Kevin will play. ‘Cause he tested negative this morning. But unfortunately, UAAP did not allow him.”
after having a depleted roster for most of their games, Pumaren lauded the Archers’ next-man-up mentality as they still landed a 7-7 finish in the elimination before losing a playoff for No.4.
“Every game, it’s the next man up. Up to the very end, up to the last game that we played here this season, it’s still the next man up. So far, guys have stepped up. Guys have… when they stepped to the plate, they’ve taken the challenge. I’m still proud of how the boys played,” the veteran coach said.
“Maybe with a little more break, we could have won the ball game. That’s the story of our season this year. We need a break, we really needed a break, but I’m surprised we even got to this point, that we had to play a knockout game just to make it to the Final 4,” he added.
The final game of La Salle was filled with mystery as Winston was not with his team on the bench and was reported to be barred to join the Green Archers.
Pumaren neither confirmed nor denied the report as he refused to comment, saying the school will release a statement in due time. But he revealed that the Filipino-American shooter had the clearance to train and play without restrictions.
He also said La Salle will remain intact next season as Winston, a two-and-through player from the United States, is the lone graduating Archer.
However, Pumaren’s future with the team remains uncertain when asked about what’s next for him in coaching the team.
“Well, I don’t know. I really don’t know. I really don’t know,” he said.