With Nimes back in form, Mapua ready to spread their wings
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jun 23, 2015 12:49 PM
WELCOME ADDITIONS. The return of Josan Nimes and entry of Allwell Oraeme has Mapua believing they can soar to great heights for the first time under coach Atoy Co.
HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 4-14, 10th
YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Exeqiel Biteng, CJ Isit
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Josan Nimes (returning), Allwell Oraeme, Andretti Stevens
GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Joseph Eriobu, Leo Gabo
Having a proven winner as coach so far has not done the Mapua Institute of Technology any favors in the NCAA, but Atoy Co firmly believes that this is the season his alma mater finally takes flight.
With the return of 2011 NCAA Rookie of the Year Josan Nimes and the addition of 2015 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament Defensive Player Allwell Oraeme, Co has all the tools he needs to make it happen for the Cardinals.
Talking about the Filipino-Australian who missed out on the past two seasons because of injury, the basketball legend turned coach told ABS-CBN Sports, “I think if Josan is in top form, no one will stop him.”
Indeed, Nimes flashed in the preseason the offensive gifts that once won him the top rookie plum. After getting his bearings in the first few contests, the 24-year-old finally took control at the midway mark of the elimination round and took over as the Cardinals’ primary option.
The highlight of Mapua’s preseason was an upset of five-time NCAA champion San Beda wherein Nimes caught fire with nine of his 19 points in the final frame. The Fil-Aussie’s firepower will boost the Intramuros-based school’s attack after the now-departed Joseph Eriobu was their top-scorer last season at only 13.5 points per game.
Meanwhile, the other end will be anchored by 6’9” Oraeme who constantly terrorized opponents who dared venture into the paint during the preseason. The Nigerian’s offense needs work, but his quick feet and length will be an instant upgrade for a team that finished last in opponents’ field goal percentage, rebounding, and blocks the last time around.
With the end-to-end pair already making a difference along with continued improvement from the likes of CJ Isit and Exeqiel Biteng, the Cardinals can call themselves contenders for the first time in Co’s tenure. “Our main goal is to make it, at least, (into the) Final Four. After that, mag-usap na lang tayo ulit,” Co said.
However, “The Fortune Cookie” would also like to keep expectations at the minimum and pressure far away. Talking about valuing his team’s play rather than the outcome, he told ABS-CBN Sports, “Whatever’s the outcome, as long as we fight hard and try 101 percent to win, maluwag sa kalooban.”
Mapua opens the 91st Season of the NCAA against San Beda on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena. The game will be broadcast LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports+Action Channel 23 at 1:00 PM and will also be streamed LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports.com.
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