Adamson University head coach Franz Pumaren had a chance to take the Soaring Falcons to their first ever UAAP finals appearance in 26 years but, unfortunately, no one took charge inside the court when it mattered most.
On Saturday, the Soaring Falcons was denied of a finals berth by the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, after a heartbreaking yet historic 87-89 overtime loss.
"I don’t think we were outcoached or outplayed, I think it’s the guys inside that made the difference," Pumaren explained in the post-game press conference.
Pumaren, who carried Adamson to its third straight final-4 appearance, said it was UP's seniors, specifically Paul Desiderio, who took over in the pivotal last two minutes of the overtime period.
He stressed that the Fighting Maroons played with more passion and their veterans assumed responsibility when they needed most.
"Hats off to Desiderio, he really doesn’t wanna lose. You know, it’s all heart. He took over, di ba? It’s just like a sign of a very good or great college player, willing to accept the responsibility, willing to take over," Pumaren on Desiderio's heroics.
Trailing behind late in OT, Desiderio embodied UP's "Atin 'to" philosophy in the final minute of the extra period, hitting a triple and a contested jumpshot to give his squad the lead and eventually the ticket to the finals.
While he is proud of how his players improved and created their names in the collegiate ranks, Pumaren still hoped that someone from the team took over the game like what Desiderio did.
He even advised his graduating captain Sean Manganti to develop the character of taking responsibility for the team.
"He's pro-bound. I think he will be drafted but there are certain things inside the court that he should start assuming and getting the responsibility for the team," Pumaren said.
Manganti ended his UAAP career with measly 6 points in the match on 1-of-7 shooting and was benched for most of the match due to early foul trouble.
Right now, Pumaren said he just wants to take a good break and accept the fact that this season was again not for them.
"Maybe it’s not really the right time. God has other plans for us. Imagine who would think down by 3, maka-shoot ng 3 points kami, tabla, ahead, it’s a classic game," Pumaren added.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.