Philippine Basketball Association legend Fortunato “Atoy” Co officially took over as head coach of Mapua yesterday after signing a three-year deal with his alma mater.
“It is a big challenge for me to prove that I’m not only a good basketball player but a good coach as well,” said Co.
Co, named as one of the 25 all-time best pro players, won two PBA Grand Slams with the fabled Crispa Redmanizers in 1976 and 1983.
Known as the “Fortune Cookie,” Co bagged the PBA Most Valuable Player award in 1979 and also emerged as the first player in the league to reach the 5,000- and 10,000-point milestones.
“His years of playing and leading his team to victories will certainly be an invaluable asset as he coaches the Cardinals,” Mapua president Dr. Reynaldo Vea said in a statement. “As background for a coaching role, there can be no substitute to actual court experience that produced positive outcomes.”
Co never won a collegiate crown but captured the NCAA MVP plum twice in his three playing years with the Cardinals in the ’70s.
“I feel the pressure but I don’t like to make promises,” said Co, who replaced Chito Victolero. “We will do our best. What I would want is to see my team fighting up to the end.”
Last season, the Cardinals finished sixth out of 10 teams with an 8-10 record.
“There are a lot of factors to consider to improve our game,” said Co. “Foremost of which are to ensure that my players are in tip-top shape and for them to have a high morale when the next NCAA season begins.”