DESPITE seeing Mapua lose its opening game in NCAA Season 91, returning player Josan Nimes believes teams will no longer look at the long-suffering Cardinals the same way.
“I think teams won’t take us for granted anymore like the couple of years before, like Mapua, it’s just Mapua,” said the 24-year-old former Rookie of the Year. “So I think teams really have to prepare for us now, so we just have to be ready for that."
Nimes spoke in the aftermath of the Cardinals’ 102-89 setback at the hands of five-time defending champion San Beda in the opening game of the league’s men’s basketball tournament Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Cardinals trailed early, 22-7, but made a game of it when they tied the score at 62-all in the third period.
“In the game, I had a chance to win,” said the comebacking Nimes, who was out for two seasons due to a back problem and an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury on his left knee.
“We’re not normally used to have closed games with the type of teams like San Beda, so we’re kind of surprised (and) shocked ourselves.
“I think now with this game, we realized that we can play with these guys so that’s good. That’s good for our confidence."
Nimes fired 23 points to go with seven rebounds, and two assists against the Red Lions, but admitted later he was a little bit anxious playing in his first game with the Cardinals after two years.
“I was very eager. I had a lot more butterflies (in my stomach) than in normal games, but that’s normal because the big crowd and the coverage and everything, but it was good,” said Nimes. “It was good coming back.”
“(But) I should’ve paced myself a little bit better,” he added. “I came out a little too excited (and) I tried to get my teammates involved first, but yeah, you can say I ran out of gas. I was excited.”
The fourth-year guard had 17 points in the first half but was limited to just six the rest of the way.
Nimes said his performance was still subpar.
“Five (on a scale of 10). I’d give half because after half time I came out too slow so I’ll give myself five out of 10,” he said.