'Parang Gilas lang,' says Mapua coach Atoy Co after Cardinals figure out to win in close games
Coach Atoy Co likened the Mapua Cardinals to Gilas Pilipinas after finally learning to close out games in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Dante Peralta

FOR Mapua coach Atoy Co, it’s not only Gilas Pilipinas that has finally figured out how to win in close games.

The Cardinals mentor likened his team’s recent fortunes to the national basketball squad, which, after suffering heartbreaking losses, broke through in the win column of the Fiba World Cup on Thursday night with a 81-79 triumph in overtime over Senegal to finish its campaign on a bright note.

The Cardinals repulsed the Lyceum Pirates, 76-65, on Friday to register their second straight win and third overall to surpass their win total last year.

Co felt the rare winning streak was long overdue after the Cardinals were on the losing end of closely-fought games.

“In our previous games, we didn’t know yet how to finish -- parang Gilas lang,” Co said. “Natatalo sila kasi they didn’t know how to finish the game, kaya pag dating ng endgame, medyo hesitant.”

“Pero (kahapon), hindi na.”

The Cardinals survived San Sebastian, 75-73, last Friday before delivering down the stretch anew to turn back the struggling Pirates with a wider margin.

“Syempre mas masaya ako nanalo yung Gilas,” Co said. “Pero masayang-masaya ako na-surpass ko `yung record ko last year.”

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