Patience needed as Mapua continues to rebuild
MANILA, Philippines – Mapua head coach and PBA legend Atoy Co preached patience as it may take three years or even longer before the dividends begin to pay off for the rebuilding Cardinals.
Co, a rookie head coach, has led Mapua to a 1-9 record in the NCAA Season 89 tournament, with their lone victory a 104-99 double overtime win against San Sebastian in the first round.
Speaking to Quinito Henson of The Philippine Star, Co admitted that the rebuilding process has not been easy for the storied program of Mapua.
“We’re asking for patience,” Co told Henson. “We’re working on a three-year program, but it may take as long as five years.”
Co is hopeful that they can recruit talented local players like Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena and La Salle’s Jeron Teng. As it is, he has seven rookies and four sophomores in his line-up. “It’s like we’re starting from scratch,” he said.
Co told Henson that he accepts "our limitations,” and pointed out that they could have had a better record if not for mistakes in the endgame.
“We’ve lost some games which we could have won if not for late mistakes,” Co said. “It’s like coaching a high school team, starting with basics. But I’m happy when the players do things right.”
“We’re experiencing growing pains, which is difficult to accept, but we must take responsibility,” he added.
The priority now for Mapua is to “upgrade our talent level,” said Co.
“We’re looking at players from different high schools, but they’re the same players being scouted by teams from the UAAP and NCAA,” he admitted. “We’ve got two imports in residence, both 16 (years old). One is a 6-foot-9 Nigerian and the other is a 6-foot-8 Cameroonian.”
“But they won’t be able to play until 2015. We’re trying to get better players, not as good as Kiefer (Ravena), but players who will want to compete,” he said.