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Franz Pumaren very proud as reserves step up in suffocating UST

For Franz Pumaren, teamwork makes the dream work.

That’s what the veteran coach stressed after Adamson got contributions from all fronts in dealing UST a 79-71 loss in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Eleven of the fourteen players scored, 10 grabbed at least one rebound and reserves like Simon Camacho, Kristian Bernardo and Jun Espeleta all stepped up as the Soaring Falcons roared to its third straight win.

“If you look at our team, except for 1-2 players, I don’t think there’s no one you can call a blue-chip rookie or outstanding player,” Pumaren opened up post-game. “Probably we’re successful at this stage because we play as one unit.”

“I think the only way for us to really be successful this year is for us to stay the course, stay within the system,” he added. “Our program is successful because no individual player can win us games. It’s gonna be a team effort for us to beat the other teams.”

True enough, there’s not one hotly-recruited name in Pumaren’s roster aside from backup point guard Jerie Pingoy, whom Adamson acquired after leaving his first college choice, Ateneo, after a season.

The rest are players who flew under the radar, choosing to raise their stock in San Marcelino and help deliver the squad’s first championship in decades.

These players — Jerrick Ahanmisi, Vince Magbuhos, Espeleta, Camacho, Bernardo, Jerom Lastimosa, Jed Colonia and CJ Catapusan — all teamed up as the Falcons foiled UST’s upset bid by using suffocating defense and patient offense.

Magbuhos and Camacho were particularly spectacular against the Tigers, with the rookie big man providing bursts of offense and the latter delivering three steals and two blocks highlighted by a staredown on rookie CJ Cansino.

And with Papi Sarr and Sean Manganti in sick bay, Pumaren credits his reserves for rising to the challenge.

“One thing I can say about my bench players is that they proved they are capable of stepping up,” he said. “I think this is one game that we were able to prove ourselves that we play as a team. We wore down the opponent.”

“Yung injury ni Sean, yung illness ni Papi, we cannot stop those things. But basically, Bernardo gave us a lift. Same with Camacho. Our players are beginning to accept their roles. They’re beginning to see the whole picture, what are the things they can do to help the team.”

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