Randy Alcantara is as stoic as they come.
But on Wednesday, after steering Mapua University to its first NCAA Seniors Basketball Finals since Season 67, Alcantara could not help but be emotional.
“Masayang-masaya at yung mga taong walang sawang naniniwala sa amin… Dinedidecate namin ito kay Amang Lopez,” expressed Alcantara as Lopez passed away peacefully last January 30 at the age of 95.
“Dapat kasama namin siya pero Sir, para sa inyo ito.
“Wala kaming tigil na nagtrabaho para sa kanya at naniniwala siya sa mga players,” he continued about the beloved former Mapua official.
The last time Mapua was in the Finals was back in 1991.
During that time, Alcantara was still a player while Lopez was the school’s athletic director.
And it was San Beda who they faced with the Cardinals taking a three-game series against the Red Lions, capped by a 91-90 win on October 16, 1991.
Since then, Mapua could not make the finals.
Still, Alcantara continued to face San Beda, albeit as a coach in the juniors division.
“Gaya nung sinabi ko, yung mga players namin, dream nila makabalik kami sa finals,” said Alcantara about the need of going through the history for him and the Cardinals. “Almost same group ito pero yung mga players na ito, gusto nilang bigyan ng karangalan yung Mapua.
“Nagkataon lang siguro na San Beda ulit.”
In the finals though which begins on Sunday, the Cardinals face the mighty Letran Knights — a team that has yet to lose in 10 games.
Though the task will be tough, Alcantara knows that the Cardinals have what it takes to beat the Knights.
“Sana magtuloy-tuloy at makapagtrabaho at makapag-prepare kami ng maayos against Letran. Hindi biro makapasok sa Finals at maayos namin yung mga mali namin sa previous games namin.”
All for, Sir Amang.