Dindo Pumaren: The bullet fired once more

Many have doubted, but Coach Dindo Pumaren and his young rebuilding squad proved them wrong.

After being excluded from the playoffs last Season 72, the Green Archers regained a foothold in the Final Four standing and finished their UAAP campaign at the fourth spot. Under his tutelage, the young host of Archers clogged passing lanes and ran at every opportunity, leading the league in fastbreak points.

Would anyone still be surprised? After all, it is something you would be expecting from a man who goes by the nickname of “The Bullet” during his days as a Green Archer.

Ferdinand Pumaren, or more famously known as “Dindo” was already part of the La Salle bench in the past, not as a coach but as a player, an Archer who once wore that fabled Green jersey.

Coach Dindo began his athletic career by playing on the junior level as a point guard for Coach Ato Badolato’s storied San Beda Red Cubs team. There he joined the ranks of PBA legends Benjie Paras and Allan Caidic in shaping one of the most formidable teams in the high school wars.

After having experienced playing in the collegiate and professional levels of the sport, Pumaren still sees high school basketball as a fun experience. Hailing from a family of University of the East alumni, Dindo strayed from his family’s educational background, taking up BS-Commerce Major in Marketing Management at DLSU, which enabled him to represent the hallowed Green Archer team.

Pinapansin lang nun [sa high school] is more on your knowledge of offense lang. Pero when you enter na nang college level, it’s a big jump na, different story kaagad.” [In high school, they take note only of your knowledge of offense. When you enter college, it’s a big jump. It becomes a different story.] He says of his transition to the collegiate level.

College basketball was not smooth sailing for Pumaren, as defense then played a vital part in every game. He learned that one must adjust to defense, and create shots at different points on the court. One of his memorable moments at his college stint was teaming up with his younger brother Franz, who was a five-time champion coach of the Archers.

“It was fun because I was the point and he was my wing man and we would sometimes switch positions because we were both scorers,” says Pumaren about playing alongside his younger brother. To complete the cast, they were mentored by their elder brother Derrick, who led the Archers to the Promised Land in 1989 and 1990.

Coach Dinco experienced playing for both the NCAA and the UAAP along with his brother, as La Salle was formally announced a member of the UAAP in 1986. He also took part in the classic La Salle-Ateneo rivalry and remembered his fair share of the heated match-ups against their archrivals.

“Dapat nag-pro [professional] na ako pero nag-stay ako [I was supposed to go professional but I stayed] for one year because we have a chance for the championship and it was against Ateneo,” he recounts.

When Pumaren graduated he got drafted into one of the Philippine Basketball Association teams. The Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdogs (now known as B-Meg Derby Ace) signed him up in 1989, and he manned the point for the team for seven years.

“You are setting an example for the team. It’s like you are an extension of the coach when you are on the court,” he shares about being a point guard.

In those seven years, Pumaren established himself as a dependable court general for the team. His performance earned him fans who praised his “incredible orchestration of plays.” His speediness and accurate passing eventually earned him the nickname which would define his playing style as well as his coaching style later on: “The Bullet.”

After Purefoods, Pumaren changed teams throughout his professional career, the last being the FedEx Express (now Air21 Express) before trading the leather for a marker and white board to map out plays for the UE Red Warriors.

In 2007, Pumaren went from being the player to being the coach at the helm of the UE Red Warriors, his first coaching feat. Handling a squad bannered by Marcy Arellano, Mark Borboran and Bon-Bon Custodio, he established a new system and the keyword was discipline.

In Season 70, his UE squad whipped up an immaculate 14-0 sweep at the eliminations which automatically gave them a Finals seat. Many would remember that the Pumaren brothers tried to outlast each other in the finals series between La Salle and UE with the older Franz snatching the championship.

“Ang problem before kasi [The problem] is every time we face La Salle, they (the Red Warriors) get intimidated with the presence of players like Yeo and Casio,” he muses about that championship battle.

After a fruitful coaching tenure with UE, he reunited with his brother Franz, this time in the familiar streets of Taft Avenue to handle the Green Archers. When his brother stepped down as the coach, he took charge of the coaching post thus becoming the fourth Pumaren to spearhead the Green-and-White ballers after his father Pilo, older brother Derrick and younger brother Franz.

Being under the strides of his father and brothers, Dindo is able to merge their styles and improve the system. “Same philosophy, the system is also the same. I emphasize instead of relying on offense, the only way we can beat the other teams is through good defense.”

As for the performance of the Green Archers, Pumaren is proud for his wards’ achievement. “I’m very happy, over-achiever yung team even though na they think na dapat umabot na ng [they should have reached the] finals. I’m very happy [about] the way they played.”

Training for the upcoming Philippine Colleges Collegiate League (PCCL) tournament, the team practices three times a week also to give time for the midterm exams of their players.
“[Because of] the experience [the players earned] last season, yung kompiyansa ng mga players nandun [they also gained confidence]. Si Norbert Torres and si LA [Revilla] nabigyan na ng [were already given] clearance, so maganda, maganda ang mangyayari [something good is about to happen]. I’m very excited,” he finishes.

Charles Usi

By Charles Usi

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