What will Franz Pumaren bring to Adamson?

Adamson’s biggest recruit thus far is Franz Pumaren as head coach. Now they have one of the best coaches around; one who can strike fear into opposing teams not only with recruiting acumen but also the courts smarts that go along with it.

How many teams copied his staggered screens to free up shooters or ran presses like his squad? One thing about his teams in both the UAAP and PBA is that they played with a lot of energy. That says something about Pumaren as a motivator.

The timing of Pumaren coming on board is crucial because it gives him time to recruit and build his team.

As it is, the Falcons will only say goodbye to point guard Joseph Nalos, who was one of the team’s strengths last season. He was one of two players who averaged in double figures with 11.9 ppg (the other being center Papi Sarr who topscored with 14.9 to go with 13.4 rpg). What they have remaining is a bevy of young studs who will benefit from Pumaren’s coaching — William Polican, Dawn Ochea, JD Tungcab, Jerome Garcia, Alwin Margallo, Ivan Villanueva, Harold Ng, Nico Capote, and Papi Sarr. It sounds like a solid-nine man rotation except that it is lacking in height.

So expect Pumaren to try and bring out the talent even from the seldom-used players or to bring in some new blood to fill in the gaps. Terence Mustre should move up to Team A after serving his residency year after transferring from La Salle. (READ: La Salle legends Ritualo, Allado join Pumaren on Adamson bench)

How will Pumaren improve them?

Defense

Adamson was the worst defensive team in Season 78. Yes, even with Papi Sarr patrolling the lane. Boy, they must be glad they got a defensive coach.

The Falcons simply gave up a lot of points — from the perimeter, two-point range, from the perimeter or even inside, as well as from fastbreaks. The porous D allowed opponents to get in the lane for drop passes or kick outs to open shooters.

Expect the Falcons to jam the outlet/inbound and for guards like Polican and Margallo to operate like free safeties and try and pluck those passes from their pressure defense and trapping. That buys Papi Sarr time to get down and set himself inside. 

What Pumaren has done through the years is to work his guards to delay the opposition into setting up their offense, leaving them with not much time to get a good shot. He wants his players to play pesky perimeter defense.

Should the ball go inside, Pumaren will look to Sarr, Villanueva, Ochea, or Cristian Garcia to grab those boards. 

If Pumaren can get Villanueva to shed some weight and operate like Barako Energy veteran Willy Wilson or some of those mobile power forwards that he had in La Salle, where he would guard wing players and slide in for the defensive rebound that would greatly help. 

Ball control

Adamson turned the ball over 21.9 times a game last season. Easily the most, and that hurt them badly. 

If you have watched Pumaren since his debut in 1998 up to his years in the PBA, you know that he likes to play controlled basketball. In his last few years in La Salle, I had the good fortune of watching a couple of their practices in the old Adidas Spotskamp at the Fort.

Coach Pumaren demanded control and focus from his floor generals, though he will allow some players to freelance on offense at times (he can see the big picture from the outside). 

So I expect better ball management from the Adamson Falcons.

Fitness

I mentioned that he will have Vallanueva shed some weight. Look to the Falcons to be lean and mean as they get fit for the relentless pressure defense that their coach will want them to play. They will be one of the more superbly conditioned squads. 

The return of those staggered screens

Garcia and Capote were their outside shooters who preferred those open shots. Can you imagine them running through those staggered screens for open shots like JVee Casio, Joseph Yeo, and Renren Ritualo did years ago under Pumaren? Could he turn Harold Ng into the second coming of TY Tang?

Now, there are some concerns.

Adamson is not La Salle even if they will have the presence of former Green Archer Mustre. It was a lot easier to lure recruits to go to La Salle given its standing as an institution both academically and athletically. Furthermore, Adamson doesn’t have the financial backbone to compete. Unless Megaworld’s rumoured muscle comes in then this is another game changer for Adamson who will enter the world of high stakes basketball. 

Knowing Franz, he will not enter a situation where he doesn’t have the resources to compete. The Shopinas/Air21 stint was a blip on the radar but look how he turned them around eventually.

One of the cool things Adamson did was ensuring that Mike Fermin remains a part of the coaching staff; after all, he did a great job. Pumaren is big enough a name to recruit and that the team will have no shortage of coaching smarts. Franz comes in with a young and talented team that he can only make better. 

Even before he came on board, I repeatedly wrote that Adamson can only get better considering the way they played all season long. What was sorely lacking was experience. Now the young Falcons have it. Expect them to press and play better defense. 

The presence of Franz in Adamson means we will be treated to another Pumaren battle when the Falcons face the UE Red Warriors more so since they run similar game plans. – Rappler.com