ENDING a two-year Final Four absence, or contending for the title while hosting the UAAP’s 83rd season?
Those are perfect motivations for La Salle, according to veteran Green Archers coach Derrick Pumaren.
“La Salle hosting UAAP Season 83 is going to be an added motivation for the team to perform well and make it to the Final 4,” Pumaren told Malaya-Business Insight.
“They are itching to start practicing and raring to go once we are allowed to train as a team,” he added.
Since taking over at La Salle’s helm from coach Gian Nazario and active consultant Jermaine Byrd last January, Pumaren has made big moves to boost the Archers’ line-up.
Ace playmaker Evan Nelle moved from San Beda University to La Salle although he will serve the required one-year residency before he can suit up for the Archers.
La Salle also added Letran Squires standout Joshua Ramirez and secured the commitments of forwards CJ Austria of University of the East High School, and Emman Galman of Perpetual High School.
Fil-Am brothers Benjamin and Michael Phillips, both 6-foot-8, are also set to join the Archers.
“(CJ) Austria and (Emman) Galman will be eligible to play in Season 84,” offered Pumaren, who steered La Salle to its first two UAAP crowns in 1989 and 1990.
“The Phillips brothers will be a good addition to our frontline. They will give us the hustle and energy and hopefully will rub off their teammates.”
Carrying the colors of EcoOil-La Salle in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup that was suspended indefinitely since March 11 due to the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, the Archers won their first two matches to gain a share of the lead with Builders Warehouse-University of Santo Tomas and lone club team Marinerong Pilipino.
The Taft-based crew, which last won the crown in 2016 under Aldin Ayo, finished with a 7-7 card for fifth last season and failed to advance to the Final Four for the second straight year.
Two years ago, with coach Louie Gonzalez calling the shots, La Salle finished the season with an 8-6 record in the elimination round in a tie with Far Eastern University. The Tamaraws beat the Archers in the playoff for the last Final Four berth.
Aside from its new additions, among those expected to lead La Salle’s bid to regain the crown are lanky center Justine Baltazar, guards Aljun Melecio, Encho Serrano, Jordan Bartlett, and Kurt Lojera, forward Tyrus Hill, and 6-foot-11 Senegalese big man Amadou Ndiaye.