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As decorated as he is, Franz Pumaren never expected to be a coach

Franz Pumaren admitted that he never really saw himself becoming a coach, since he’s aware of how challenging the task can be. 

The 56-year-old revealed as much in Thursday’s episode of Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ Coaches Unfiltered, presented by SMART.

“Never did I ever imagine na magco-coach ako dahil I know ang hirap eh,” Pumaren told the podcast, also supported by Mighty Sports and Choi Garden.

“There’s gonna be a lot of frustrations, there’s gonna be a lot of challenges.”

But that changed when the opportunity came in his way during the early 90s, while he was still playing for San Miguel Beer in the PBA.

That time, he recalled, San Miguel’s team in the Philippine Basketball League, Magnolia, was searching for a new coach in place of his brother Derrick.

“Nung time ng PABL na ‘yun, normally meron kang counterpart na PBA team. And that particular time, the coach of the PABL team was Derrick,” he said.

The older Pumaren had been manning the sidelines for Magnolia in the PBL since 1983, until he went to Triple V — also in the same league.

But San Miguel’s search for Derrick’s replacement didn’t take long, following the suggestion of then-SMB head coach Norman Black.

“Management decided — even Norman Black din decided, sabi niya, why don’t we just assign Franz to coach this team for two conferences?

“So sabi ko, sige, why not? I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but I was the only active PBA player who was coaching in the PABL then,” he said.

The floor general then experienced first-hand how it felt to call the shots, although he still didn’t think of becoming a coach even after that stint.

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“After that I never really imagined myself coaching eh,” said Pumaren, who went on to play in the PBA until calling it quits in 1998.

But in 1998 also, a month before the new UAAP season, he was appointed as chief tactician of De La Salle Green Archers.

And the rest, as they say, is history. He steered the Green Archers to the chip in just his first season, starting a dynasty that extended until 2001.

Pumaren then led the cagers from Taft Avenue to another title in 2007, the time DLSU returned to the UAAP after suspension the year prior. He also took his act in the pros, coaching Air21 and GlobalPort before returning to the collegiate ranks through Adamson.

It has been quite a journey for someone who at first never thought of coaching. Still, he has no plans of slowing down.

“It just happened nung time na may offer sa’kin if I want to coach. Sabi ko, ‘Why not?’,” said Pumaren.

“But I guess, I started enjoying it.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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