ALLWELL Oraeme and Darell Menina are not on the way out of Mapua after all.
Turns out, the Cardinals duo asked to be excused for the year due to family problems and have no intentions of transferring to other teams, head coach Atoy Co bared after Mapua's 49-64 loss to Benilde in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup.
"Si Menina nagkaroon ng family problem kaya nagpaalam muna, pero part pa s'ya ng team," the outspoken mentor said of the spitfire guard who was absent in Wednesday's match at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
"Si Oraeme medyo down, may problema ata sa pamilya din. Nakikiusap kung (pwedeng) hindi muna sya maglaro this year. Pero magpapatuloy ng pagaaral sa Mapua," he said.
Co said he allowed both players to sit out the year even if it would entail a struggle for the Cardinals in the upcoming NCAA season.
Oraeme is still enrolled in Mapua and Menina vowed to return next year, Co added.
"I think I'm going to gamble on that. I'll still give him (Oraeme) scholarship. Hawak ko papeles, he cannot enroll in another school," he said. "Pag-pahingahin siya ng one year, tapos ang kundisyon ko is enroll, continue to study, I still give you a little allowance and board and lodging."
"But you have to practice three times a week, something like that. On your free time, practice ka. Kasi it cannot be na totally hindi ka magpa-practice. Mawawala ka sa kundisyon, mawawala ka sa basketball, mawawala ka sa timing," he added.
Right now, Co is encouraging his players to step up in the absence of the two cagers.
But with the one-sided loss to a rebuilding Blazers squad in the summer tourney, it seems that the Cardinals have a tough preseason ahead of them.
"Actually, ito ang pinapaintindi ko sa mga players ko ngayon eh. Kasi parang to accept the challenge, yung mga veterans ko, they're taking it in their own hands. Sabi ko, hindi pupwedeng mangyayari. Sabi ko we have to play still as a team, five-man, naglalaro 'di ba," he said.
"Hindi pwedeng isa kontra sa apat, kontra sa tatlo. Di pwede. Kailangan respetuhin natin bawat isa ang kakayahan ng player. Kundi, lalo tayong walang mapupuntahan."