MANILA, Philippines — Mapua has tapped one of its most successful alumni in a bid to bring back the school’s NCAA basketball glory.
Fortunato “Atoy” Co, the pro legend who copped two NCAA Most Valuable Player awards with the Cardinals, is set to be named as the new Mapua coach, two months after the resignation of Chito Victolero.
Mapua president Dr. Reynaldo Vea already met with Co, who was recommended by the search committee whose members include National Association of Mapua Alumni president Mario Marasigan, vice president George Ong-Tan, and former Mapua players Junel Baculi and Amang Lopez.
In the Asean Basketball League (ABL), Leo Austria will take over the coaching duties at San Miguel Beer following the decision of Bobby Parks to take a leave of absence due to health reasons.
Austria, who has been handling San Miguel’s practices the past weeks, served as an assistant to Parks in the Beermen’s maiden stint last year where they finished runner-up to champion Indonesia Warriors.
Under Co, who is set to officially start in January, the Cardinals hope to break out out of their mediocre run in the last four years.
Last season, the Cardinals finished sixth out of 10 teams with an 8-10 record.
Nicknamed the “Fortune Cookie,” Co never celebrated an NCAA championship with his alma mater but won two PBA Grand Slams with the fabled Crispa Redmanizers in 1976 and 1983.
Co, one of the PBA’s 25 greatest players, will be one of the new faces in the sidelines next season as half of the league’s coaches decided to quit this year.
Aside from Victolero, San Sebastian’s Topex Robinson, St. Benilde’s Richard del Rosario, Letran’s Louie Alas and Ronnie Magsanoc of reigning champion San Beda also stepped down.
Boyet Fernandez, meanwhile, has been named by top San Beda patron Manny V. Pangilinan as the top candidate to take over the Lions’ rein.
“Whatever his decision I will follow,” said Fernandez, the NLEX mentor who steered the Road Warriors to three PBA D-League crowns aside from serving as a Meralco assistant coach in the PBA.
“I’m surprised. I never applied for the position but I’m grateful to boss MVP that he’s seeing what I’m doing for NLEX and Meralco.”
At Letran, PBA assistant coach Caloy Garcia leads the short list of candidates that also includes Nel Parado, Larry Albano, Ronjay Enrile and Alas’ assistants Tino Pinat and Monch Gavierres.