ANDOY Estrella said Mapua's victory over Letran on Tuesday proves the Cardinals can survive without two-time Most Valuable Player Allwell Oraeme.
The Cardinals lost their Nigerian import, who left saying he was no longer happy with the team, as well as top guard Darell Menina, who has moved to National University in the UAAP.
That left Mapua with only 11 players for Season 93, but Estrella is glad to prove doubters wrong. The Cardinals actually fielded only nine players in a win over the Letran Knights.
"Etong panalo namin, pinapakita lang namin sa mga nag-dadoubt sa amin na hindi daw kami mananalo ngayong season," said the 23-year-old Estrella, one of the veterans of the squad. "Sobrang saya namin na nanalo na kami this season."
"Sobrang hirap sa amin kasi puro key players ang nawala sa amin. Ang hirap mag-adjust sa practice kasi maraming bago. Hindi pa alam 'yung mga plays. Nag-focus lang kami sa conditioning," said Estrella.
Estrella admitted it was difficult for the Cardinals to adjust with new players following the departure of Oraeme, but they believed they can survive, even more so after a fine performance in a loss to Arellano in the opener.
"Sinabi namin sa sarili namin na kaya pala namin kahit wala sila Allwell," said Estrella, whose confidence grew even more when he was able to contribute late in the game for the Cardinals against the Knights.
"Nakatulong. Nagpataas ng kumpiyansa 'yung mga tira ko," said Estrella.
On his game-winning play, Estrella said: "Basta, tinira ko na lang, na-shoot."