MANILA, Philippines – The Mapua University Cardinals will look very different when they open their campaign in the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament.
Season 92 record: 12-6
Season 92 summary: Thanks to another MVP campaign from Allwell Oraeme, the Cardinals marched to the Final 4 for the second straight season last year.
However, they were not able to make much of an impact there, as they were routed by Arellano University, 92-80, despite a 20-point, 24-rebound effort from Oraeme.
Of some consolation to Mapua is that Oraeme again earned MVP honors, while Joseph Eriobu played well enough to be a second round pick in the 2016 PBA Rookie Draft.
Key losses: Allwell Oraeme, Joseph Eriobu, Shane Menina, CJ Isit
Key returnees: Andoy Estrella
Projection: There is little doubt that the Cardinals will struggle in Season 93, having lost not only last season’s captain in CJ Isit, but their pillar of strength in two-time MVP Allwell Oraeme.
Oraeme anchored Mapua’s defense for the past two years, and averaged 15.8 points, 19.8 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game in Season 92. He was also improving as an offensive player, after getting his points through put-backs for most of his freshman season.
With Oraeme gone, Mapua has lost its most efficient scorer and best defender. Their performance in the FilOil tournament showed the extent of their struggle, as they went winless in the preseason tilt.
Coach Atoy Co will now be pinning his hopes on veteran guard Andoy Estrella, who says they will favor a more run-and-gun game in Season 93 given their lack of options.
In their own words: “Ngayong season na ito, puro takbo. Sa training, takbo ng takbo. ‘Yun lang talaga ‘yung panlaban namin ngayon, kasi maliliit kami masyado ngayon. Takbo lang talaga ang panlaban namin ngayon.” – Andoy Estrella
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