MANILA, Philippines — All of Mapua coach Atoy Co’s fears came true in the Cardinals’ 72-83 loss to Jose Rizal University Monday in the NCAA Season 89.
“Even before the game, that’s what I’m afraid of,” said Co, a PBA legend and a two-time NCAA MVP in the early 70s with the Cardinals. “My players are mostly rookies and sophomores and this is what I’m afraid of that when they step on the court, they will lose their composure.”
Mapua looked every bit of an inexperienced team as it allowed the first-game jitters and pressure to get the best of them.
“My team is still young. We lost composure. Totally we didn’t have composure. Pag pumapasok na sa loob hindi na alam yung mga dapat gawin. Basketball sense. Two-on-one hindi pa namin ma-finish ng tama,” added Co.
JRU capitalized with Mapua in all sorts of trouble building a 20-point lead in the second quarter.
The Cardinals fought back to even take the lead before the Heavy Bombers pulled away again and that time able to hold on.
Co, in his first coaching stint in two decades, commended his team’s effort but expressed displeasure on its execution on both ends of the floor.
“I’m not happy with the execution. Siguro yung execution namin 20 percent lang. We barely break their press. We scouted JRU, we know what they will do but we were not able to do it.”
Mapua missed the services of its veteran guard Josan Nimes, who won’t be able to play the entire season due to a back injury, admitted Co.
Of all the negatives Co saw, he liked that his team showed resiliency to climb back from a deep hole.
“We can come back. Malaking bagay yun for a team,” said the 62-year-old Co.