MAPUA’S upcoming campaign in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has suffered a blow with one key player set to miss the entire Season 89 due to injury and another leaving the team for good.
The names of Gab Banal and Josan Nimes were noticeably missing from the Cardinals’ roster, which was released along with those of the rest of the teams competing in the league on Monday.
Mapua corporate communications assistant Malorie Magsuci initially said Banal - as per athletics department director Melchor Divina - is only “on leave” from the school, while Nimes was left out of the lineup as he is currently undergoing therapy due to injury along with Andretti Stevens.
But the 22-year-old Banal, son of former PBA player and coach Joel Banal, later confirmed he has transferred to La Salle, where he first studied in college, to finish his information systems degree.
He is already enrolled at the Taft-based school and projected to graduate after this school year.
Banal also said he is foregoing the rest of his playing years in college to concentrate on his stint with Cebuana Lhuillier in the PBA D-League.
“I already want to turn pro and I think playing and focusing on the D-League will equip me for the PBA,” Banal told Spin.ph.
The 6-foot-3 swingman played only one year for Mapua after transferring from La Salle, averaging 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and three assists in 25.3 minutes per game last season.
On the other hand, Nimes was the Cardinals’ top playmaker, leading the Intramuros-based squad in assists (3.5) and second in scoring (11.9) last season.