LIKE the rest, Mapua University coach Randy Alcantara is keeping his fingers crossed that the 96th NCAA basketball tournament will push through next year.
“Sana nga matuloy iyong season, as of now hindi natin alam kung ano ang mangyayari.
Okay naman iyon (start early next year) para makapag-prepare pa ang team at para sa mga players na nagpapagaling from injuries. Maganda iyon para sa amin,” Alcantara told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.
“Let’s be positive na matutuloy iyong season,” he added.
Due to the lingering health risks and uncertainties brought about by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA is eyeing to launch its 96th season early next year.
His charges are doing just fine, according to Alcantara.
“Okay naman ang mga players, nasa kani-kanilang mga probinsya sila mula noong lockdown. Now, busy sila sa mga online classes nila and iyong Zoom workout ng team three times a week, so far iyan muna ang ginagawa nila para hindi sila ma-out of shape,” offered the bespectacled Alcantara, who also calls the shots for the defending MPBL champion San Juan Knights.
“Iyong iba may mga small businesses at natutuwa naman ako sa mga players na iyan, masisipag at matulungin sa pamilya nila. So far, iyan lang muna, sana lagi kaming healthy at ang buong Cardinals team.”
After taking over from pro league great Atoy Co in December 2018 at the helm of the Cards, Alcantara guided the squad to a 9-9 record for sixth in the last NCAA cage wars.
Mapua began the tourney with a 0-5 record but went 9-4 the rest of the way and nearly advanced to the Final Four.
The Intramuros-based five only lost big man Justin Serrano and forward Daniel Aguirre due to graduation.
Alcantara, who won two titles in an 11-year coaching stint for the Mapua Red Robins in the juniors play, is convinced the Cards have what it takes next season with an intact line-up.
Aside from the likes of guards Laurenz Victoria and Cyril Gonzales, wingman Paolo Hernandez, and big men Warren Bonifacio and Christian Buñag, Mapua added prized recruits in former Red Robins standout Brian Lacap and Toby Agustin, who used to play for University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP.
After Technological Institute of the Philippines disbanded all its varsity teams due to the financial repercussions caused by the coronavirus crisis, Engineers’ big man Ivan Santos, forwards Marlon Navarro and Jopet Soriano also moved to the Cards.
Santos, Navarro, and Soriano will be eligible to play for Mapua in the 97th season after serving the league required one-year residency.