NCAA 95: Young Red Robins' flight had always been scheduled for next year

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 07, 2019 02:49 PM
Red Robins' flight had always been scheduled for next year
(Photo by Josh Albelda)

For the first time since 2012, Mapua High School will not be playing after the elimination round.

Instead, the Red Robins will be watching the NCAA Season 95 Juniors Basketball Tournament Final Four from home.

Without a doubt, that is only an unceremonious end to their title reign - a title reign that actually was their second in the last three years.

Even more, the boys from Intramuros are actually on pace for their worst record since the days when they were still the league's cellar-dwellers.

At 4-11, though, they still have three games to salvage a fine finish to what has been down year for the league's new powerhouse.

Still, Mapua's first-year head coach Yong Garcia sees a silver lining in how his boys have given their all for the most part. "Nakikipag-compete naman yung mga bata. Although talo, most of our games, close games and masaya ako dun," he said.

And now, the remainder of the season is actually already their launchpad as they try to climb back into contention a year from now. "Nakikita ko ring every game, nag-iimprove sila. Yun lang naman ang importante sa amin ngayon," their mentor said.

After all, this year had always been seen as a time of transition for them - with coach Yong taking the place of multi-titled mentor Randy Alcantara and with Jonnel Policarpio the lone holdover from their championship core. "In-expect naman namin na eto lang talaga yung preparation namin para next year," their tactician said.

He then continued, "Yung players namin ngayon, puro bata e. We have 13 rookies so this year, gusto lang naming maka-gain sila ng experience, maka-compete, maka-improve."

Next season, though, will definitely be a different story. As coach Yong put it, "Ang ina-eye nga namin talaga is next year."

And there, the Red Robins will be spreading their wings and taking flight once more. "Kung healthy lahat at kung papara sa klase lahat, tingin ko, malaki chance namin next year sa championship," coach Yong said in his trademark softspoken yet confident manner.

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