For the last few seasons, the Mapua University Cardinals have always had a stacked lineup. They had Josan Nimes and Darrell Menina in NCAA Season 91, CJ Isit and Joseph Eriobu in 92, and Leo Gabo and Andoy Estrella in 93. And who could ever forget that they had two-time Most Valuble Player Allwell Oraeme to lead the way.
This season however, the Cardinals are playing with no seniors nor volume scorers.
With this predicament, fourth-year Mapua head coach Atoy Co is planning to use this as their strength.
“I’ve been telling them talagang everybody has to score, player ka eh,” Co shared. “Ayaw ko ng role player na dedepensa ka lang. Pero pag nalibre ka, you should know how to score. Wala naman talaga kaming player na superstar di ba? Lahat kami average lang yung player.
“The more I tell them they have to play as a team para manalo kami,” the PBA legend added.
“Kasi wala naman tayong go to go guy, wala naman kaming Lebron James ‘di ba? Sana meron kaming Steph Curry.”
This freedom was showcased Thursday evening during Mapua’s 72-60 wire-to-wire win over JRU on the road.
Mapua had eight players score at least six poins in the game while Christian Bunag, who only had four points, was able to gobble 12 rebounds. Laurenz Victoria led the way with 11 points while rookies Warren Bonifacio and Eric Jabel had 10 and nine points respectively.
And this is the way Co likes it.
“That’s what I like about this team, talagang everybody contributes even on defense.
“Kasi pag lahat kami ng contribute eight points tapos may sasampu maglalaro, disenta na yun isa mag double figure… Pag umiskor ka ng eighty pataas malamang good defense panalo ka eh,” Co said.
With 17 more games remaining, Co is confident they could sustain this pace for the long run.