It is safe to say that things are not going to plan for Mapua University in the NCAA Season 98 Seniors Basketball tournament.
The Cardinals suffered their fourth straight loss this season at the hands of Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 62-67.
With a 1-4 win-loss slate, they are placed ninth just behind University of Perpetual Help System DALTA in the standings.
To make matters worse, the Cardinals’ sole win this season – the 66-55 victory over San Beda University during opening day – may be forfeited amidst the controversial fielding of St. Clare College of Caloocan standout Gab Gamboa.
“Siyempre, malungkot, lahat naman ng natatalo malungkot at tuloy-tuloy pa rin kami kung ano maging resulta,” lamented junior Paolo Hernandez after their loss against the Knights.
“Continue to grind lang and all out kami sa susunod pa naming games.”
While it is still premature to write off Mapua’s chances of entering the Final Four, the Cardinals need to start barging into the win column again if they want to maintain their push for a post-season ticket.
The Cardinals promise to give it their all in every game. But that might not be enough because the competition simply gets tougher and tougher.
“Di namin masasagot yan kasi bilog ang bola ‘yun nga sinasabi ng lahat; lahat pwede mangyari, and lahat ng teams competitive, lahat pwede manalo, lahat pwede matalo,” expressed the 23-year-old winger, who scored nine points, seven rebounds, and three assists in the game.
“And di na namin hawak ‘yung resulta eh, ginagawa lang namin all out kami, and ‘yun kung ano maging resulta tatanggapin namin, pero sa dulo babawi’t babawi kami.”
When things continue to go wrong, every athlete feels that certain breaks are not going their way.
In the case of Hernandez and the rest of the Cardinals, they feel that they could not just catch a break.
It can be recalled that they were just one Juaqui Garcia away from defeating San Sebastian College-Recoletos, one John Abis three behind from downing Perpetual, and, today, one stop away from completing a rally against Letran.
As much as they feel hard done, though, he admits that it is up to Mapua to adapt to the circumstances they play in.
“Actually, matagal na namin ina-ano namin [tinatanggap]. Ang hirap mag-adjust sa mga referee, di namin alam ‘yung sa dapat sa hindi; makapal, manipis ganun minsan, pero it’s all about adjustment naman talaga eh,” shared Hernandez.
“Sa game mag-aadjust kami kung ano dapat [gawin] linalapitan namin ‘yung referee kung ano ‘yung dapat. Wala eh, breaks of the game talaga, may nangyayari talagang ganon.”
Tipped as one of the main title contenders, nobody expected Mapua to struggle this much early in the season.
Another tough test awaits as the Cardinals take on Jose Rizal University on Friday. As always, though, the only place to go is up and Hernandez is not throwing in the towel yet.
“Oo meron din, panic mode na kami kaonti kasi ‘yung 1-4 [record] mahirap na makabangon. Pero, ‘yun nga tuloy-tuloy lang, sana sa next game ma-ipanalo na,” he said.
“Just play pure basketball lang, pure basketball lang kung ano ‘yung ibibigay sa amin tatanggapin namin, pero di kami papatalo.”