By Gio Gloria
The 80s and 90s blessed us with movies that could withstand the test of time, to the point that rewatching it again and again just doesn’t get old. The Back to the Future movies take us back to the younger days of Michael J. Fox, The Parent Trap introduced Lindsay Lohan and her acting chops to the world, while the Jurassic Park left us in awe by bringing dinosaurs to life on the silver screen.
When De La Salle University released a statement officially announcing the (re)hiring of Derrick Pumaren as the head coach of the Green Archers after weeks (or for some, months) of speculation, memories of Bagets, the Pumaren Press, and the first DLSU UAAP titles came flooding back into the minds of the more senior members of the Lasallian community.
For the younger generation, Derrick was better known as the head coach of the UE Red Warriors that had a 21-35 win-loss record over four seasons, a stint that fair or not, sticks out like a sore thumb. Fans who closely follow the Philippine college basketball scene also remember his most recent role as coach and head of basketball operations at Centro Escolar University, where he took the Ateneo Blue Eagles to four games in the 2019 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Finals amidst the game-fixing issue that led to an investigation and removal of several players.
After two straight years of missing out on the Final Four, La Salle decided to hit the reset button yet again, adding to the list of what feels like the team’s list of rejected probationary coaches. Nearly four years have passed since DLSU won its last UAAP title and the arrival of Derrick Pumaren marks their fourth head coach in that same span of time.
The Pumaren name is synonymous with La Salle basketball not just because all three Pumaren brothers Derrick, Franz, and Dindo took on DLSU head coaching duties over the past two decades, but also due to the fact that Derrick and Franz are responsible for seven of the Green Archers’ nine UAAP championships (nine of eleven if you count the two titles lost in the boardroom).
Although the addition of Derrick Pumaren has its merits, the circumstances that brought him here may make it feel like a step backwards. A revolving door of coaches won’t provide the stability that other programs have, and if the coaching changes make it look like La Salle coaches are constantly on probationary status, it may not bode well for player development and attracting key recruits.
Derrick may have a long track record considering his previous coaching stints, but it would be wise of La Salle fans to refrain from forming their expectations until the preseason has concluded. Factors such as reintegrating Jermaine Byrd and Gian Nazario into the coaching staff and introducing the holdovers and rookies to his system will definitely affect how the team performs in the near future. A preseason stint in the PBA D-League will also show us what direction they will be headed and what they would need to work on heading into Season 83.
Initial reactions on Derrick Pumaren taking over the La Salle team once again have been split. Some are happy seeing a familiar face at the helm, while others want a coach that has had more recent success. Whether you’re a Lasallian in favor of the hire or a skeptic, one thing must be certain: Give patience a chance and see how things unfold.