Derick Pumaren recalls being blown away after first seeing Alvin Pasaol play

Alvin Pasaol was recruited by Derick Pumaren to play for the UE Warriors in the UAAP. Winston Baltasar

When then-University of the East head coach Derick Pumaren first saw Alvin Pasaol drain buckets for Holy Cross College of Davao in 2015, he knew he had to secure a commitment from the 20-year-old.

"He can score. That's the thing. That's what I saw. He was an inside-outside player and just give him the ball and he'll score on anybody," recalled Pumaren, who is now calling the shots for the De La Salle Green Archers.

After personally flying to Davao to pitch an opportunity to play and be educated in Manila, Pumaren secured Pasaol's commitment to be a Red Warrior.

His first season with UE in UAAP Season 79, according to Pumaren, was a transition period for the Davao del Norte native. Nevertheless, he was still able to produce solid numbers in his maiden UAAP campaign of 11 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game.

"In the UAAP, you can see what he can do, but he was still adjusting. But when he was in his second year, he felt more relaxed. He felt more at home," recalled the former PBA coach.

By his sophomore year, Pasaol was already rolling. He upped his scoring average by over nine markers to 20.6 points, and complemented that with 7.1 boards, 1.6 dimes, and 1.7 steals, and a spot in the league's Mythical Five.

Not only that, he would etch himself in the UAAP's history books by scoring 49 points against defending champions La Salle on Oct. 4, 2017 in a 106-100 loss.

"[Pasaol] was feeling at home. He was really feeling confident with himself. It seemed like the period of adjustment had ended. So I wasn't surprised when he scored 49," remembered Pumaren.

In what was his final season for UE, Pasaol improved even further, with eye-popping averages of 24.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.9 steals, enough to merit him another recognition in the UAAP 81 Mythical Five.

After deciding not to return to Recto, Pasaol ventured in the emerging 3x3 circuit. It was there where the burly forward made use of his hard physicality and feathery shooting touch to become one of country's representatives in numerous FIBA 3x3 tilts.

His body of work did not go unnoticed, having risen to be the second-ranked 3x3 player in the country, just behind fellow Rookie Draft hopeful Joshua Munzon. The two also have a chance to push the country to another slot in the postponed Tokyo Olympics.

Pasaol never let go of an opportunity to play five-on-five, as he played for his hometown team in the MPBL, and treaded his sneakers even further in the PBA D-League.

In late 2019, he decided to skip the draft, but now believes it's time to take his scoring touch to Asia's oldest pro hoops league.

The Davaoeño's exploits have elevated him to the upper half of the first round in numerous mock drafts. But for Pasaol, the only thing on his mind right now is to be selected by one of the 12 teams.

"I think my advantage is my experience in basketball. What my team needs from me is what I will contribute so that I could help lead us to the win," said Pasaol in Filipino.

Aside from his penchant for scoring, Pasaol believes he will be more effective as a player if he works on both sides of the court.

"I will probably focus on my defense more, because I'm well-known on offense, the problem is now, who will I defend? Will it be a big or a smaller player?"

His former collegiate coach also said that Pasaol needs to work on his strength and quickness, for PBA players at the forward positions are strong and quicker than anybody in the amateur ranks.

"He needs to adjust. He's used to playing with his weight, but his body, I would say, was used to being a slower four. He needs to be faster, and adjust because he'll be playing quicker, bigger, and experienced guys as well," mentioned Pumaren.

For his part, Pasaol said that he had been working on his conditioning and his game alone in the gym, before trying to put on more muscle through weights.

"I'm excited to play with everyone. I looked up to them since I was young, since they are the best in the country," said the 25-year-old.

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