Just three years ago, Mapua tower Warren Bonifacio wasn’t even playing ball

Three years ago, Mapua's Bonifacio wasn’t even playing ball
WATCH ME WORK. Warren Bonifacio's workmanlike approach to the game has been rubbing off on no star Mapua.

Mapua University, the defending champions in the NCAA 93 Juniors Basketball Tournament, is a team without a star.

Yes, Mike Enriquez was a former Season MVP.

Yes, Will Gozum looks like the prototype big man of the future.

Yes, Clint Escamis has proven that the Red Robins will be his team to lead next season.

Still, Mapua is a team without a star.

Relying on team effort throughout the tournament, they are back in the championship round to defend their championship.

And that team effort begins with team captain Warren Bonifacio.

With his workmanlike approach to the game rubbing off on his teammates, the Red Robins don’t need a star.

The 19-year-old has been averaging 11.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.7 blocks in 30.8 minutes and has served as the anchor for the third-best defense in the league. “Ako yung captain ball so gusto kong ipakita sa kanila yung sipag na kahit hindi umiskor basta ginagawa yung small things,” he said.

He then continued, “Yung score naman, dumadating nang kusa yan kasi yung dumedepensa ka, makaka-score ka rin.”

Bonifacio’s emergence as a leader is a fortunate occurrence considering Intramuros wasn’t his first choice. “Galing po akong Pampanga tapos dinala kami sa Manila. Nag-Adamson po ako nung una, pero after two months, ‘di namin naramdaman na mala-lineup kami,” he shared.

He then continued, “Dun po kami nagdesisyon na mag-Mapua.”

Making it an even more fortunate occurrence is the fact that the six-foot-five big man only started playing ball three years ago. “Dati sa Pampanga, ‘di ako mahilig mag-basketball. Puro computer games lang ako nun, pero nung nakitaan ako ng laki, sabi ng coaches ko dun, tuturuan daw ako mag-basketball,” he said.

And so, that was the origin story of Bonifacio’s basketball career.

It was only when he got to Intramuros, however, that he got serious in polishing his craft. “Dati, wala talaga akong skills. Na-develop ko lang po yun nung tinuturuan na ako nina coach Randy [Alcantara],” he said.

He then continued, “Simula nung turuan na ako, naging habit ko na siya kasi naramdaman ko na yung sarap nang mag-basketball.”

Now, he has emerged as one of the high school stars who seem nothing but ready for the collegiate ranks.

For the Red Robins’ leader, all of this is for his family. As he put it, “Ginagawa ko po lahat ‘to para sa future ko para ‘di na mahirapan magulang ko,” he said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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