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MANILA, Philippines – Last year came as a shock for most spectators as the underdog Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals took a final four slot in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 91.
Reaching the semi-finals dream wouldn’t have been possible without the help of star Allwell Oraeme.
However, the back-to-back NCAA Most Valuable Player Oraeme was out of action as the Cardinals suffered a 64-49 loss against College of Saint Benilde Blazers, Wednesday, May 3 in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup at the San Juan Arena.
Another key player, Darell Menina, missed the chance to help his teammates lift the Mapua banner.
Speculations and rumors about Oraeme leaving Mapua began to circulate because of his absence but head coach Atoy Co says the 6-foot-9 Nigerian has a different story to tell.
Mapua not well without Allwell
“We have a big problem since two of my superstars are taking off for a year off,” said coach Co in an interview with Rappler. “They are both experiencing family problems.”
According to coach Co, Menina is still in Cebu and he is trying his best to reach out to him and confirm his status for the upcoming NCAA season.
“I’ll talk to him (Menina) as soon as possible and settle if he’s going to come back or not because if he is, he has to enroll so he could play,” explained coach Co. “If he still wants to play, he should come back now (to Manila) and enroll.”
On the other hand, coach Co explained Oraeme’s request for a year off is because of prevailing pain in his knee and a family concern.
“I don’t want to speculate on Oraeme’s family problem because I’m having thoughts the reason why he’s asking for an off is because somebody is also getting him,” coach Co admitted.
Coach Co shared he is not disappointed with this. Rather, he is concerned with what he’s read from news outlets.
“Oraeme said he is not happy with Mapua anymore,” said coach Co. “I took it very wrong. I don’t have any idea why he won’t be happy because I provided everything for him.”
Despite this, coach Co confirmed Oraeme asked for a request to still be given a scholarship, board and lodging and allowance in Mapua.
“Oraeme told me he will not transfer. I read a letter from him,” said coach Co who slammed speculations of Oraeme leaving Mapua and play for other teams like De La Salle University. “I’ll probably talk to him on Friday.”
The former PBA player Co was also seen in the recently concluded Palarong Pambansa 2017 in Antique province scouting for players.
“All is under negotiation since they’re going to Grade 12. I’ve seen some players but I have a lot of competitors,” said Co. “I have money but they (other schools) have more money than me.”
Coach Co is also determined to bring in players from the provinces to give them more opportunities, “I am very open to recruiting players from all over the country. There are more competitive players in the province than here in Manila.”
But even with the abundance of talented players out there, coach Co still wants Oraeme to be part of his team.
“I want him (Oraeme) to play for Mapua. I just have to sacrifice for a year. One step back, two steps forward,” coach Co said. – Rappler.com