PBA legend Atoy Co proud of Mapua's team-first mentality
MANILA, Philippines – Even though he's individually known as a legend in basketball circles, Mapua University (MU) Cardinals head coach Atoy Co still highly values star-less, team-first basketball.
And this was clearly evident in the retooled Cardinals' 72-60 win over the Jose Rizal University (JRU) right on the Heavy Bombers' home turf at the JRU Gym, Thursday, July 12.
Eight Cardinals scored at least 6 points, led by Laurenz Victoria's 11 and star rookie Warren Bonifacio's 10.
"I've been telling them that talagang everybody has to score," he said in the post-game presser. "Ayaw ko ng role player na didipensa lang. Pero pag nalibre ka, you should know how to score. Wala naman kami talagang superstar eh. Lahat kami average lang yung player. All the more I'm telling them to play as a team para manalo kami."
(I don't want a role player to just defend. If you're open, you should know how to score. We don't have a superstar. We all just have average players, so the more I'm telling them to play as a team so we could win.)
"Wala naman tayong go-to guy eh, wala naman kaming LeBron James," he joked. "Di ba sana meron kaming Steph Curry, eh wala di ba? That's what I like with this team, everyone contributes."
(We don't have a go-to-guy like LeBron James. It would be good if we had someone like Steph Curry, but we don't, right?)
But he may just have his go-to-guy in the 6-foot-5 Bonifacio, who stayed with Mapua's seniors squad after winning a juniors title with the Red Robins in 2016. The rookie had an impressive debut, but Co still expects more.
"I'm not yet satisfied," he said. "Warren, he can play better than that. Medyo nape-pressure ata eh, kaya nagiging butterfinger kanina."
(He looks slightly pressured earlier, with a case of butterfingers.)
After finishing dead-last at 3-15 the previous season, Mapua looks set to reverse its fortunes and make a hasty return for the postseason after a 3rd-place finish in 2016.
And in his lucky 7th year with the squad, "The Fortune Cookie" may just have an extra bit of luck on his side this time. - Rappler.com