CRY ME A RIVER. Atoy Co and Mapua are yet to find adequate replacements for their six players who have moved on.
Of Mapua University’s nine most used players a year ago, only Andoy Estrella, Laurenz Victoria, and Almel Orquina will be back for Season 93.
Yes, all of Alwell Oraeme, CJ Isit, Joseph Eriobu, Darrel Menina, Exi Biteng, and Justin Serrano will no longer be clad in red and yellow.
And so, safe to say, the clouds up above are nothing but dark for the Cardinals.
While players like Biteng, Eriobu, Isit, and Serrano were graduating and thus long known to be leaving, head coach Atoy Co lamented the sudden departures of Oraeme and Menina. “I was expecting Eriobu and Isit, but I wasn’t expecting the Nigerian and Menina to leave,” he said.
He then continued, “Everything is a big blow for us. All this happened only early this year and there’s no time already.”
Indeed, Oraeme departed Intramuros in April while Menina joined him out the door a month later. Ergo, only three to fourth months remained for the Mapua coaching staff to find adequate replacements.
And mind you, those replacements should only help out in making up for Oraeme’s 16 points, 20 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game as well as Menina’s 8.9 points and 3.3 assists per game.
Unfortunately for the faithful over at Intramuros, apparently, Co and his coaching staff have found no one to do just that – no one from his Team B or his recruits. “Hindi pa ready mag-step up yung iba. Hindi pa. hindi pa,” he expressed.
And that was exactly why the Cardinals suffered through a winless run in the recently-concluded 2017 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament. As the mentor put it, “Winless because we lost our foreign player. Yung consequence nun, siyempre all the players, bumaba yung morale.”
Nonetheless, Co assured his alma mater that he and his coaching staff are doing their best to re-ignite the fire under Mapua. “We always tell them, we have to keep on going. ‘Di pupwedeng we just let them play around and make fun of us,” he said.
He then continued, “We have to show them we still have pride.”
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