AFTER an absence of two decades from the coaching scene, cage great Fortunato "Atoy" Co is getting ready for a comeback after agreeing in principle to take over the head-coaching job at alma mater Mapua this season.
The former Crispa Redmanizers star has confirmed to Spin.ph that he and Mapua are merely tying the loose ends on a deal that would have him taking over from Chito Victolero in Season 89.
“Not officially yet but in principle, yes,” said Co, who declined to make any comments about the Mapua job until the appointment is made official, which could happen next Friday, January 11.
A two-time NCAA MVP, Co never tasted a championship with the Cardinals but was a success when he turned pro. Apart from bagging the league’s top individual honor in 1979, the 'Fortune Cookie' won two grand slams with the Crispa Redmanizers and was named one of the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players.
Co will now try to turn around the fortunes of a Cardinals crew that had underachieved in four years under Victolero, who led the Intramuros-based dribblers to an 8-10 win-loss record and seventh-place finish in Season 88.
However, the cage icon has been absent from top-level basketball for the past 21 years, his last coaching job being with the Crispa team which he led two titles in the old PABL from 1988 to 1991.
Mapua athletic director Melchor Divina admitted that a candidate has already been chosen and contract kinks are just being ironed out, but refused to confirm Co's looming appointment.
“As of now wala pang final agreement. May napili na ang panel pero maghihintay pa to discuss the terms and conditions of the contract,” he said in a phone conversation on Wednesday.
The search committee is composed of school alumni led by association president Mario Marasigan and former player Amang Lopez, among others.
Co beat out fellow former Cardinals Horacio Lim, Jack Santiago, and Efren Garcia for the position. Bong Ramos was also considered by his name was dropped when he was named interim head coach of Barako Bull in the PBA.