Co rues dwindling number of Mapua players due to injuries
As if Mapua’s roster couldn’t get any more depleted, coach Atoy Co had to face another wave of bad news as top guys Andoy Estrella and Leo Gabo fell to injuries prior to the Cardinals’ game against San Beda on Friday.
“Unfortunately, they got injured in our practice. Wala na nga akong players, nai-injure pa (I no longer have any players, and even the ones I have still get injured),” the PBA legend rued as his rotation dwindled down to just eight men.
Estrella has been the Cardinals’ leading scorer, averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists, while Gabo, who was still able to play minimal minutes in the game, has been netting 10.8 markers, 3.2 boards, and 3.4 dimes.
Still in disbelief with the turn of events, Co shared that it was disastrous practice session on Thursday for his Mapua squad.
“Gabo got (his ankle) sprained when he landed in our scrimmage. Andoy inadvertently pushed one of his teammates and (Almel) Orquina landed on his knee. He didn’t hear any pop, but after that, he had a hard time walking,” he said.
Co suspected that Estrella suffered an MCL injury, as he kept his team’s leading scorer off of Mapua’s game on Friday. Gabo, meanwhile, fought through the pain but could only muster two points in the four minutes he played in the game.
Their absence were truly felt in the Cardinals’ 66-55 loss to the Red Lions, which sent them to their fifth straight defeat and further down the cellar at 1-6.
Though Co got a huge boost in the emergence of Christian Bunag, who racked an eye-popping 20 points and 18 rebounds, the mentor knows that won’t be enough as he hopes to get more surprises from his line-up.
“From the start of the season, all I wanted is to have a good showing, not necessarily winning. Winning is a bonus. But I always tell them that we will play good basketball,” he said.
“We have to play good basketball, disciplined basketball, take the open shot and not the hurried shot. There are losses that are still good shows. It’s basketball, there will be winners and there will be losers. It’s just that we lack the manpower.”
Mapua takes a 12-day breather before facing JRU on August 22.
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