MAPUA hoping to get immediate contributions from a handful of rookies as the Cardinals try to move up the NCAA table in Season 90.
Five fresh faces, including two Red Robin stars, have joined the Cardinals squad that will be looking to climb the standings after posting a league-worst 2-16 win-loss record last season.
Focus will be on former Mapua juniors stars Justin Serrano and Ronnel Villasenor as well as fellow rookies Jerome Canaynay, Jobert Medina and Jomari Tubiano in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament unfolding Saturday at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
"If we want to succeed this year, the veteran guys and the younger ones will have to contribute on both ends," said Mapua coach Atoy Co. "The older guys can't do it alone so we will need all the help we can get."
Kenneth Ighalo has graduated from school, Andretti Stevens has finished his playing years, Mark Brana is out due to academics and recently Josan Nimes was taken off the roster due to a knee injury.
"We'll try to win more games, that's all I can promise," said Co.
Joseph Eriobu, Andrew Estrella, Darrel Magsigay, Jessie Saitanan, Jeson Cantos and Carlo Isit are the holdovers.
"Josan (Nimes) was supposed to play this year. In fact, he represented the team during the customary television shoot," said Co. "After that, he got injured so we were forced to remove his name out of the lineup."
Mapua opens its season against Perpetual Help on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.