Jerrick Ahanmisi has undeniably become Adamson University’s main man, and Soaring Falcons head coach Franz Pumaren is immensely proud of the progress the gunslinging guard has made.
Speaking in Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ Coaches Unfiltered, the decorated mentor marveled how the Fil-Am cager has grown from the first time he saw him to now, as he’s become one of the league’s best shooters.
“He tried out with several schools, they didn’t get him. The problem? Because he’s not what you call ‘ready to play college’,” Pumaren told the podcast presented by SMART and supported by Mighty Sports and Choi Garden.
“Kasi ‘yung iba, they’re thinking they want ‘yung ready na eh. Probably when they saw him, sabi he’s still a project. But when he started practicing with us, we were able to develop him. I guess the rest is history.”
The younger brother of Alaska Aces guard Maverick showed glimpses of his potential in his very first UAAP game back in Season 79. Then, he sizzled for 28 points in Adamson’s victory over University of the Philippines.
He then became part of the Mythical Five in his third season, together with MVP Bright Akhuetie and Juan Gomez de Liaño of the UP Fighting Maroons; Justine Baltazar of the DLSU Green Archers; and Alvin Pasaol of the UE Red Warriors.
And just last season, Ahanmisi led the Soaring Falcons with averages of 13.1 points on 29-percent shooting from downtown, on top of 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists, although Adamson missed the Final Four with a 4-10 record.
But as much as he acknowledges that Ahanmisi has become the Soaring Falcons’ top gun, the outspoken Pumaren would still want to see more assertiveness from the 6-foot guard.
“Well, si Jerrick is too nice eh. I think ang kailangan niya i-improve is medyo maging selfish siya. Maging assertive siya,” said the five-time UAAP champion coach with the Green Archers. “Maging swapang, you know — down the stretch, he should at least ask for the ball. Kaya lang, he’s too nice eh, ‘yung he’s so happy to just be part of the team eh.
“He needs to be a bit cocky. When I say cocky, hindi naman ‘yung mayabang. Ibig sabihin, ‘yung talagang confident ka eh. That’s one thing we’ve been trying to develop.”
“Like (Joseph) Yeo ‘no, coach?” asked host Charles Tiu.
“Yes!” affirmed Pumaren.
Pumaren has also pointed out to Ahanmisi that ingraining that kind of confidence is simple — just watch old games of La Salle legend Renren Ritualo, one of the best players the UAAP has ever seen.
“That’s one thing I’ve been telling Jerrick eh. He should try to get the old games of Renren and try to watch it,” said Pumaren, who won four straight UAAP titles with the sharp-shooting Ritualo from 1998-01.
“Alam naman natin si Renren — we can be brutally frank — kung gaano ka-kapal ang mukha niya down the stretch eh. He will want the ball. He’s one of the cockiest players, talagang trash-talker ‘yan noon pa eh.”
Pumaren expects to see Ahanmisi become more of a leader in his final year with the Soaring Falcons, especially now that he has more responsibility as the team captain.
“Hopefully. This coming season, he’ll be the captain ball of our team, so more than likely, he will start being more assertive. ‘Yun lang naman ang kulang sa kanya eh. Konting yabang. ‘Yun lang naman eh.”