NCAA 91 hosts Mapua Cardinals are primed for a comeback

Tricia Robredo on May 26, 2015 11:50 AM
Mapua Cardinals are primed for a comeback
“I’m not going to lie. It’s going to be a challenge. They have the same core team and the same coaching staff. I won’t say we’re going to win for sure, but we are going to fight.” --- Josan Nimes

Although the Cardinals were NCAA Season 90’s cellar dwellers in the men’s basketball division, the boys from the Mapua still made headlines after being involved in the infamous EAC-MIT brawl.

Now for the benefit of those unknowing, here’s a short recap of that incident. With only a few seconds away from a win for the Generals in a non-bearing eliminations game against the Cardinals in round two, punches were exchanged between Mapua’s Leo Gabo and EAC’s John Tayongtong. This was after Tayongtong allegedly got personal and physical with MIT player CJ Isit. Everyone joined in the rumble except for two kids who remained in the bench. A total of 17 players were slapped with game suspensions, with officials also suffering penalties for their failure to control the situation.

While all of that was happening, incoming Cardinals captain Josan Nimes, who comes back this season after having to sit out due to injuries, just witnessed the chaos from the sidelines. “I was really mad actually, but because of the my knee, all I could do was stand up! It was good that I couldn’t run to the court though. Or else I would have done something I’d probably regret.”

Circumstance forced Josan into taking the high road. But over time, he has gained perspective and has been pushed to maturity, something he badly needs to possess as he is expected to carry the struggling team on his shoulders in the upcoming season. Asked how he feels about such responsibility handed to him, the Digital Cinema major says he’s trying not to pressure himself. “I’m not forcing it, really. I just let the game come to me.” As a leader, on the other hand, he knows it would take more conscious effort, as his actions must set the tone to pull the Cardinals together.

But Josan shares that it seems like he has some of the work cut out for him. After participating in a pocket tournament in Cebu earlier this month, a lot of things have miraculously changed. Head Coach Atoy Co mentioned in his post-game interview with the press that they used the opportunity to talk things through and solidify more as a unit. “Talagang nag-usap kami tapos nag-bonding. Lumabas naman sa laro (referring to their convincing victory over SWU in Friday’s Filoil tournament) yung gusto namin mangyari. And the team is slowly gelling.”

Weeks before the NCAA season opens, the MIT Cardinals are using all means to improve and sharpen their game – joining tournaments and practicing daily, among others. Being the hosts for this year’s collegiate league, they feel the put up a better performance and make up for the years they found themselves on a slump. To be more exact, they are eyeing for a slot in the Final Four. And as of now, they claim to be at least 70% ready.

The MIT Cardinals begin their campaign on June 27 at 2 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena. And it’s going to be against NCAA’s 5-peat defending champions San Beda College Red Lions. With this, captain Josan Nimes says, “I’m not going to lie. It’s going to be a challenge. They have the same core team and the same coaching staff. I won’t say we’re going to win for sure, but we are going to fight.”

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