Atoy Co thrilled to see all's well with undermanned Mapua after valiant effort in loss to Arellano
Mapua coach Atoy Co held his head high after his wards went toe-to-toe with Arellano. Jerome Ascano

MAPUA coach Atoy Co found his team's defeat against Arellano 'satisfying' even as the Cardinals started their NCAA Season 93 campaign on a low note.

The Cardinals, who only had 11 players in the line-up this season following the departure of two-time MVP Allwell Oraeme and Darell Menina, bowed to the Chiefs, 91-82, on Saturday.

Arellano, however, only pulled away late in the game thanks to the heroics of Kent Salado, who finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals.

"In a way, satisfied na rin ako," said Co. "Sabi ko nga, there is a game na talo ka pero masaya ka, hindi 'yung natalo ka na tambak na hindi ka lumaban. At least eto, okay na ako dahil lumalaban kami hanggang the last three minutes, dun lang kami natalo."

"Napagod na siguro 'yung mga bata at magaling si Salado," he added.

Laurenz Victoria and Andoy Estrella led the Cardinals with 23 and 19 points, respectively. Estrella actually flirted with a double-double as he added nine rebounds and five assists.

In the end, Co rued the turnovers late that cost Mapua the game, which featured eight deadlocks and 18 lead changes.

But Co was more than pleased as the Cardinals even led by as high as seven points against the Chiefs.

"I'm not expecting that kind of game na lumalamang kami, lumalamang sila, palitan kami. More or less, happy na ako dun. I think we can do better next time," he said.

"Nagkaroon lang kami ng mga lapses sa huli na nag-error ng nag-error, nagtapon ng bola, sinosolo na naman. 'Yun ang iniiwasan namin. Hanggang ngayon, pinapaniwala ko pa rin sa kanila na maglaro tayo ng sistema, teamwork, may laban tayo," added Co.

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