CALL it a reunion of sorts.
After failing to advance to the Final Four the last two seasons, La Salle opted to renew ties with its former coach, Derrick Pumaren, who has been tapped to replace Gian Nazario.
“De La Salle University is pleased to announce that Frederick ‘Derrick’ Pumaren is the new head coach of the men’s basketball team effective January 1, 2020,” the school said in an official statement yesterday.
Pumaren steered the Green Archers to its first two UAAP titles in 1989 and 1990. He also served as coach of Magnolia and Triple V in the defunct Philippine Amateur Basketball League before taking his act to the pro league via Pepsi, Sunkist, Sta. Lucia, Purefoods, FedEx, and Talk ‘N Text. Pumaren won two titles with Sunkist in 1995.
Pumaren also coached University of the East from 2014 to 2017 before taking over at Centro Escolar University from 2018 to 2019. He parted ways with CEU last December.
Gabby Velasco and Mon Jose will be part of Pumaren’s coaching staff while Nazario and consultant Jermaine Byrd will remain with the squad as assistant coach and skills coach, respectively.
“The University welcomes back coach Derrick to the Lasallian community as he maps out the new direction of the Green Archers,” the statement added.
The Archers, who last won the crown in 2016 under Aldin Ayo, wound up with a 7-7 card for fifth last season.
In 2018, under Louie Gonzalez, La Salle finished the season with an 8-6 record in the eliminations in a tie with Far Eastern University. The Tamaraws beat the Archers in the playoff for the last Final Four slot.
Graduating players Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio, Encho Serrano, Joaqui Manuel, Kurt Lojera, Tyrus Hill, and Jordan Bartlett are expected to lead La Salle’s charge in the 83rd UAAP basketball tournament that gets going in September.
The Taft-based squad will join the PBA D-League Aspirant’s Cup set to begin on Feb. 13 carrying the colors of Eco Oil-La Salle.