Fielding in a solid mix of veteran and young players this season, the Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals, also this year’s host, has legitimate chances of making noise come playoff time.
But for team captain Josan Nimes, everything doesn’t occur in a blur and it takes time to get things together.
True to his word, the Cardinals are in the process of feeling out each other. They are currently sporting a 1-2 record so far in the young season. They opened their first three games of the season with a 102-89 defeat at the hands of defending champion San Beda, an 88-86 comeback win over the San Sebastian Golden Stags, and, most recently, a tough 81-78 setback against the raging University of Perpetual Help Altas.
It may be a 1-2 start for Mapua, but in every game they played so far, the team proved to be more confident and more cohesive one game after the other.
“Besides our two losses, we have been playing very good as a team. I think every game we’re getting better as a team and our confidence is growing every game,” shared Nimes when asked about his thoughts in Mapua’s campaign so far. “Like in the San Beda game, we were surprised that we could play with them and our confidence grew. That game solidified that we could play with the top teams and we could make it to the Final Four.”
In addition, Nimes also indicated that the team needs to sharpen up its defensive efforts since the Cardinals are giving up an average of 89.7 points per contest and allowing opposing teams to nail six three-pointers per game.
“If our defense was more solid, we would have won [the Perpetual game] for sure. We just couldn’t get stops,” Nimes said.
Furthermore, the team needs to get better at crunch time since their past two losses showed that they tend to get relaxed in crucial stretches and commit boneheaded errors.
“We have a lot of young guys and we only have a few veterans so I think when our young guys have more kinds of games like these, we can come through in close games,” he added. “Everyone must buy in into the system and the confidence needs to grow.”
Individually, Nimes also wanted to see improvements for himself as the season gets deeper. He remarked that he wants to improve his conditioning so that he could last longer in close games and also work on improving his shooting.
Nimes has been averaging norms of 19.7 points per game on 45 percent shooting, 6.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.
“Probably I need a little more conditioning so that I could last longer and probably with the consistency of my shooting and also being a team leader,” he quipped.
Now, with the past game behind them, Mapua will now face the unbeaten Letran Knights this coming Friday, 12 noon, at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
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