WITH Mapua yet to form a competitive team, rookie coach Atoy Co deemed it wise not just to take part in any of the ongoing preseason collegiate tournaments in the country.
Co admitted he still has to whip the Cardinals into a complete unit two months since being officially named head coach of his alma mater's varsity squad.
“Ang dahilan doon ay sa tingin ko, half-cooked pa ang team ko,” said Co when asked about the matter by a handful of sportswriters during the recent launching of the new logo of Gatorade.
“Sabi nga nila, kapag hindi pa luto ang ulam, huwag mo muna ipakain,” said Co.
The Cardinals are conspicuously absent from two of the preseason collegiate tournaments this summer, but Co assured the team is preparing for the coming NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
“Hindi masyadong malakas, hindi mahina. Pero sinisigurado ko sa kanila na hindi nila (players) ako babalewalain. Makakakita sila ng desenteng basketball team. I’m happy naman na responsive ang mga players,” said Co.
The PBA great was officially named Mapua head coach in February, giving him less time to scout and recruit new players.
“Pumasok ako sa Mapua ng February. Kung sino na ‘yung nadatnan ko, ‘yun na ‘yun. Kasi halos lahat na ng magagaling na players, nasa ibang teams na,” Co said.
The 1979 PBA Most Valuable Player said he will spend the rest of the year - even during the NCAA season - recruiting players for Mapua.
This week, he was in Dumaguete City scouting players taking part in the basketball competition of the Palarong Pambansa.
“Hopefully, hanggang December siguro, wala akong gagawin kundi mag-recruit ng mga players para lumakas ang team,” said Co.
Among the holdovers from last year’s team are Josan Nimes, Kenneth Ighalo, and Gab Banal.