In his first three years with the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, Franz Pumaren has always looked to one senior who will help him in leading the team.
Back in UAAP Season 78, he had Dawn Ochea. Then during the last two years, he had Robbie Manalang and Sean Manganti.
This season, though, the decorated tactician got lucky. UC Berkley alum and former Enderun ace Valandre Chauca chose to commit to Adamson during the off-season.
“Actually, there were a lot of schools that were interested in him. He fell on my lap. He saw my game on YouTube, so he wants to follow me,” quipped Pumaren.
“We hit the jackpot on him.”
Chauca comes from a good pedigree. He studied in and played for NCAA Division I squad UC Berkeley, graduating with a degree in Legal Studies.
“Walang kwentang school, UC Berkeley. Number nine in the world, walang kwenta. Medyo mahina ulo niyan,” joked Pumaren before turning serious.
“He can nurture the younger guys, be their mentor. He’s a welcome addition to us.“
Though he arrived just four days before their season opener against Ateneo, Chauca showed that the hype was justified. The 5-foot-10 guard dropped 17 points to almost will Adamson against the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Besides his leadership traits, Adamson chose him since Chauca lit up the Blue Eagles seven months ago.
“We gotta deal with this Valandre Chauca kid and he’s really tough,” shared Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin, recalling the time Chauca dropped 27 points on 52.9 percent shooting from the field – 5-of-11 from beyond the arc – along with five rebounds, three assists, and a steal against Ateneo last February 25.
“Maybe we have short memories, maybe that’s a good thing. But you know, he’s just a good player – he’s shifty, and he’s not easy to, you know, get a handle on. And when you’ve got [Gian] Mamuyac, Matt [Nieto], and Thirdy [Ravena] out there defensively, and they’re still having a hard time with him, you know that says a lot about the kid.”
With Chauca yet to reach his true potential, Pumaren can’t wait to continue working with him.
“He’s a one-and-done player that you can really invest in. I’m expecting more of him leading this team.”