They won't have Oraeme, but Mapua will now have 'Tondo Swag'
Alvin Laqui on Jul 05, 2017 10:59 AM
MANILA KINGPINS. Almel Orquina (13) and Marvel Jimenez are ready to bring their signature Tondo angas to Mapua and the NCAA.
It's no secret: the district of Tondo, with all its hustle and bustle, has the perfect environment for developing brave and talented basketball players.
Take the best example, the "Angas ng Tondo" himself, Paul Lee.
Who can forget the way he coolly drained three clutch free throws to rescue the Philippines, in front of jeering Chinese fans, no less, for the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup bronze medal?
For sophomore guard Almel Orquina and incoming rookie swingman Marvel Jimenez of the Mapua University Cardinals, it's the daunting nature of Tondo’s unforgiving yet proud community that molds its own into fearless ballers.
“Kapag kasi sa Tondo, mga laki sa court yung mga bata,” said Jimenez, a recruit from the Hope Christian High School in Tondo.
“Kapag Tondo kasi sinabi mo, pustahan. So siguro ‘dun namo-mold yung isang player para maging matapang,” Jimenez continued. “Tini-treat lang kada laro na kumbaga yun na yung last game, kasi kailangan ibigay mo yung lahat.”
Orquina agrees and thinks the ferocity to their pickup games back home has helped players like them earn an advantage heading into the NCAA. “Sa Tondo kasi iba e. Kapag sinabing Tondo, ‘pag larong basketball sobrang pisikalan, iba kasi laro sa school e, kaya sanay kami sa pisikalan.”
When the going gets tough, these Tondo-bred ballers are no strangers to the physical nature of the game. They were, after all, born right into the fire.
“Sa NCAA kasi pisikalan din yung mga players so kapag sanay ka na sa mga ganun, siyempre di ka na maninibago,” said Jimenez.
“Mas sanay ka sa pisikal, mas sanay sa paguran, makikipagpatayan,” adds Orquina.
It’s their added toughness that will be key for the Cardinals in the upcoming NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament.
After their two-time MVP Allwell Oraeme left the team, Mapua was left in shambles, going winless in eight games in the Filoil preseason tournament.
The dramatic skid was more or less expected for a team that just lost its most potent weapon, as they now lack a steady presence inside, while fielding an all-Filipino lineup that’s rife with guards.
But even with the immediate size disadvantage heading into the season, the boys still have that signature Tondo swag, the same undeniable confidence the battle-hardened Paul Lee had when he stepped in for those three momentous free throws.
“Tignan lang nila na lalaban kami every game kahit na parang undersized kami, lalaban kami every game,” Jimenez said.
“Kahit na maliliit kami, expect nila na lalaban pa rin,” Orquina chimed. “Every game, manalo, matalo, basta lalaban.”