It’s Mapua’s time to win NCAA title, believes former ace Adrian Nocum
MANILA, Philippines—Rain or Shine’s Adrian Nocum had all the reasons in the world to smile on Saturday.
Considering that the rookie was hailed as the best player of the game in the Elasto Painters’ first win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup over Blackwater, 115-110, Nocum’s smile spanned from ear-to-ear.
But he wasn’t just beaming because of the Rain or Shine win and his 14-point effort wasn’t the entire reason, either.
If he had anything to say about it, he believes that this season is the Cardinals’ for the taking.
“Of course, it feels good to see them go back to the Finals because I felt that too… I trust the coaches and the players that I’ve been there with before. I know their capabilities are why they’re there in the first place. Now is their chance to take the championship,” said Nocum in Filipino with Inquirer Sports.
“This is it. I can feel it. This is it.”
Nocum, who was part of the team that reached the NCAA Finals in Season 97, was a key cog during his collegiate days at Mapua despite an early exit in his final year after the Cardinals failed to crack the Final Four.
But his performance in his final season paved the way for him to be selected by Rain or Shine in this year’s draft.
Nocum said he’s still in constant communication with his former Mapua teammates like Paolo Hernandez and Warren Bonifacio and coach Randy Alcantara
“I still talk to them because we were the group who reached the finals before. That was the bubble season too so it was just us in the dorm, so until now we still talk.”
Nothing but grateful
Nocum turned sentimental when he talked about Alcantara, who was his mentor on the court and in life.
The 6-foot guard owes much of his career to the veteran tactician, who recruited him to play for Mapua.
“When I signed here (Rain or Shine) I thanked him. I came from Universidad de Manila, a public school near the Manila city hall. He recruited me from there to get to Mapua so he’s the one who molded me in basketball. I thank him so much for that,” recalled Nocum.
“We talk from time to time and he even advised me about being in the PBA and said I should work more.”
Nocum may not be there to help Alcantara reach his goal of getting an NCAA championship but he would definitely love to see him achieve it.
After all, Alcantara and Nocum’s names are intertwined in Mapua basketball, which has a golden opportunity to finally end a 32-year title drought.
“Whenever you say ‘Nocum,’ you’d automatically think of coach Randy.”
Mapua and San Beda begin their best-of-three series for the NCAA Season 99 title on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.