Acting coach Derrick Pumaren did not hide his disappointment with the way his Centro Escolar University Scorpions played against the top-seeded Che’lu Bar and Grill Revellers in Game One of the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, Tuesday evening.
The Mendiola-based Scorpions actually showed grit in the final frame, as they were able to cut the Revellers’ 20-point lead down to just four, 94-90, thanks to Judel Fuentes’ lay-up with three minutes remaining in the game.
However, Che’lu’s maturity was just too much for CEU to match. Feisty guards Chris Bitoon and Jeff Viernes restored order, and the Scorpions lost, 97-112, sending them to the brink of elimination from the title race.
“I’m very disappointed with the way we played,” admitted Pumaren.
“There were some guys who did not show up today.”
Known scorer Pierce Chan was limited to just nine points, while the equally-potent Keanu Caballero and Orlan Wamar combined for just six points.
The veteran mentor isn’t somebody who makes excuses, but he confessed that one factor that contributed to the sorry loss was the way they’d held their practice a day prior to Game One, where “there was no intensity”.
“Not to take anything away from Che’lu – they’re the number one team – but we didn’t really have a good practice yesterday,” said Pumaren.
“There was no intensity, there was nothing. That’s why I got kinda pissed because you guys are playing the number one team, right? So you should be ready. Hindi ‘yung you just turn it up tomorrow. It’s not gonna be like that.”
But as much as he’s disappointed, Pumaren still saw some positives from the loss, especially the solid contributions of Fuentes, Jon Formento and John Rojas, as they all finished in double figures.
Fuentes top-scored for the Scorpions with 27 points; Formento provided 17 markers; and Rojas had 15 points and seven rebounds.
“The playoffs is a man’s game… So you gotta man up. Actually I told the boys we are playing in the playoffs. We cannot be happy and play the same way that we did in the eliminations. We have to go two notches, three notches higher.
“And Formento, Rojas, Judel… those guys stepped up notches higher,” said Pumaren.
Game Two is this Thursday, and the Scorpions’ backs are clearly against the wall. For Pumaren, they simply have to fight for their lives.
“We just have to fight and live another day on Thursday,” said Pumaren, who is the Scorpions’ incumbent general manager. “We’re not thinking of trying to win the series, the attitude should be trying to extend it on Thursday.”