|Mapua head coach Atoy Co with his old Crispa Redmanizers teammate Boysie Henares who aside from being league chairman is now a Filoil executive.|
Atoy Co’s Mapua Cardinals return to the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup
by rick olivares
Over 20 coaches showed up for the Coaches Meeting for the upcoming 2014 Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup but Fortunato “Atoy” Co was the only head coach present (usually it’s the assistants who attend). “Excited,” exclaimed the Philippine Basketball Association great who once donned the colors of Mapua.
It is Co’s second season at the helm of his alma mater’s college basketball team. This past NCAA Season 89, his Cardinals finished dead last in the 10-team league going 2-16. But his team shook up the standings by beating eventual champion San Beda, 81-76, and shocking the San Sebastian Golden Stags in double overtime, 104-99.
In his first year, he didn’t participate in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup. “February lang ako pumasok sa Mapua,” explained Co. “Wala akong time ma-assess at ma-train yung team. Kaya hindi kami sumali; kung puro talo lang made-demoralize lang yung mga bata ko. Yung ang philosophy ko. Siguro sa ibang coaches gusto nila sabak agad. Sa akin, pag-aralan muna natin.”
“Ngayon pwede na.”
Co says he is looking forward to join the summer tournaments. “Dito tayo kukuha ng experience.” He will count on junior mainstays Kenneth Ighalo, Joseph Eiobu, Mark Braña, and Jesse Saitanan to lead the way. Co pointed out that save for Ighalo who will be in his final year, most of his team will be a mix of juniors and sophomores. “Nagkaroon na kami ng baptism of fire. So meron na kaming experience
Mapua has five NCAA Men’s Basketball crowns but last hoisted the winner’s trophy during the 1992-93 season with Joel Banal as head coach. “Mahirap lalo na malakas yung programa ng San Beda,” said the 6’2” Co of his team’s chances. “Pero basta kami laban lang.”