UE Red Warriors’ Biggest Challenge: To Live Up To Their Title
That cheap shot of an “inexperienced” De La Salle Green Archers’ rookie had galvanized the University of the East Red Warriors into action, and catapulted them to a successful extension during the hotly contested September 13 match at the Big Dome.
And then history was made when the final buzzer sounded.
The scoredboard blasts 92-84: the red and white crowd was stuck in a frenzied fanfare, even as the Recto-based dribblers won bragging rights for being the only UAAP team that achieved an unblemished record of 14-0 in the post-millennium history of the league.
The Red Warriors under the tutelage of Head Coach Dindo Pumaren will not let their bragging rights go down the drain. Their being the breaker of UST’s record 14 years ago gives them the ticket to get the most elusive UAAP crown at all cost.
Like a blank check, the achievement gives the Red Warriors the very right to claim victory in the finals against the league’s second-best team.
“It was really for us,” said Pumaren of the heart-pounding battle.
A court tactician, Pumaren, the second son of one of UE’s most bemedalled coach Filomeno Pumaren (next to Francisco Dalupan in terms of achievement), reminded his wards there’s nothing yet to celebrate.
Indeed, there’s nothing yet to brag about since that 14-0 check is not an enough assurance to relax and to take their stubborn contenders for granted.
Lest they forget, the Warriors’ ultimate goal is to bag home the crown for the school. That was their marching order from the UE administration that currently celebrates the school’s 61st year birthday.
The good point is that Dindo’s guys have finally come out of their shell.
He singled out center Hans Thiele who made a big difference at the crucial moments of the game.
Thiele came out of the game a hero with a career-high 16 points and 16 rebounds. “He was the big difference,” told Pumaren of the Kapampangan cager.
Now it appears that there’s going to be a repeat between the Warriors and the Archers as the latter secured a twice-to-beat advantage after beating the Blue Eagles in a 70-69 nip-and-tuck battle on Sept. 18 at Big Dome.
Perhaps by that time the Archers have already learned their lesson. It was that tension-filled first canto when De La Salle’s Bryan Ilad stormed from the bench and punched the head of UE’s Mark Fampulme, who traded words with Rico Maierhofer in front of the DLSU bench, that gave the Red Warriors the compusure to frustrate their emotional nemesis.
That incident rather tested the emotional composure and mental fortitude of the Red Warriors on the hardcourt.
For now, the Taft-based team will have to wait for the winner of the UST-ADMU match on Sept. 23 at the Big Dome.
Who’s gonna bag home the UAAP crown? That still remains to be seen.