Two years away from the game you love.
The 2011 NCAA rookie of the year, Josan Nimes, left the league after injuries plagued his young career for two straight years. During the layoff, he spent time focusing on his academics and family.
Nimes returned to the hard courts last Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, but before playing, the Filipino-Austrian was part of the opening ceremony in leading the oath of sportsmanship. “I had crazy butterflies just thinking about the first game, and they didn’t tell me that I was doing the oath [of sportsmanship] until before I arrived in the arena,” he laughingly told Tiebreaker Times. “It just happened so fast, and I was like ‘I have a lot of stuff in my mind and then doing the oath.’ In the end, it was alright. I really enjoyed the first day.”
Then came the first game. As per NCAA tradition, the opening game pits the season hosts against the defending champions. It was a special moment for Josan, not just because he was the team captain of the Mapua Cardinals, but also because it was against the defending champions, the San Beda Red Lions. “I was very excited. In the first half, I came out with so much energy, but I exhausted so much energy. I ran out of gas in the second half. It was all good, I missed playing! It’s been two years! It feels amazing, the atmosphere is amazing.”
The Mapuan senior scored 17 big points in the first half. He was aggressive in getting to the rim that resulted to a close half. “I went a little too hard in the first half,” he expounded. However, at the end of the game, he ended the night with 23 points [9/19 FG], nine rebounds, and four turnovers and a loss to the defending champions, 102-89. “It was kind of my fault I gassed, and credit to the defense of [Michol] Solera as well. I tried to get my teammates more involved in the final half. [The game] was a learning experience not only for me, but also for the team.”
At one point in the fourth quarter, the captain was visibly frustrated with the movement of the ball, especially with the new players on the team, including foreign student-athlete, Allwell Oraeme. “Allwell [Oraeme] is a big part of the team, and I can’t really get mad at him because he brings so much offensively. But as a whole, we missed a lot of ‘bunny’ shots. We were just too excited. You can’t really blame us,” he quipped.
Going into the season, he also believes that this year’s Mapua squad is special. This belief comes from the confidence PBA hall of famer and MIT Head Coach, Atoy Co, instilled in the team. It is what made this team different compared to the last team Nimes played in. “The confidence that we have. I think our coach [Atoy Co] has more confidence in us. We repay his confidence in us by the way we are playing, we trust one another. Compared to the last time I played, we believe that we could win every game that we play. We have the chance, we just have to believe.”
Finally, when asked about what his outlook for the Mapua Cardinals season is going to be, Nimes thinks that the Lions and Altas are a lock, “San Beda and Perpetual are gonna be way up there.” From there, it’s going to be an all-out war and unpredictable, “but the third and fourth spot, it’s gonna be up for grabs. It’s anyone’s for the taking. We just have to be focused mentally, both in practice and on the court to grab those spots,” he closed.
Josan Nimes is a man on a mission. The pressure of being hosts and playing in his final year in college just adds to his motivation. In the end, he wants to make this year memorable, not only for himself, but also to the Mapua faithful endlessly cheering for the Cardinals.
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