of TECH­NOL­OGY CAR­DI­NALS

THE MAPÚA IN­STI­TUTE OF TECH­NOL­OGY CAR­DI­NALS EN­GI­NEERED A MOD­EST YET MAS­TER­FUL PRO­JECT IN SEA­SON 86 AS THEY SURGED TO BE­COME THE LEAGUE’S MOST IM­PROVED TEAM AND QUAL­I­FIED FOR THE STEPLAD­DER SE­RIES AF­TER A DIS­AS­TROUS 2009. DE­SPITE LOS­ING THREE OF ITS FIVE

Rebound Magazine - - NCAA PREVIEW - by Chris­tian D. Soler

Height is might in the red half of Mu­ralla as the Car­di­nal front­line will be bol­stered by the en­try of 6’8” Yousef Taha. The Filipino-Pales­tinian big man is a le­git­i­mate post-up, back-down threat with soft hands and a sound work ethic. He’s also a pres­ence in the locker room, “a leader,” in his head coach Chito Vic­tolero’s words. Taha is ex­pected to an­chor the of­fense and along the way al­low 6’6” Mark Sarangay (6.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, league-best 62.5 FG%) to slide to the four spot and lend the lineup im­mense ceil­ing and re­bound­ing prow­ess.

The heart and soul of the squad, Al­lan Man­ga­has, will split time be­tween the point and shoot­ing guard spots to give op­pos­ing de­fenses dif­fer­ent looks. While his shot se­lec­tion re­mains a bit suspect, his court vi­sion and abil­ity cre­ate is sec­ond-to-none. The time is now for Man­ga­has, who, like Sarangay, is on his last play­ing year. 2007 NCAA Rookie of the Year Jonathan Ba­nal had a for­get­ful stint last year (1.6 APG, 22.5 FG%) and should bounce back. Com­plet­ing the quin­tet is 6’3” point for­ward Josan Nimes, an ex­cit­ing slasher who played ball with a lot of flair and dy­namism in the Phoenix, Ari­zona area be­fore mov­ing to In­tra­muros.

Bench

The di­rect ben­e­fi­ciary of Vic­tolero’s im­pres­sive haul of re­cruits is the squad’s depth. Much-im­proved cen­ter Mike Par­ala (4.2 RPG, 55.3 FG%) can ei­ther play power for­ward along­side Taha or fill the slot­man’s role with Sarangay man­ning the four. Like­wise, 6’5” Ja­son Pas­cual won’t be pressed into bang­ing bod­ies as of­ten and can spend more time on the perime­ter, where his skill set (30.7 3PT%) seems more suited.

De­fen­sive spe­cial­ist An­dretti Stevens re­turns to the lineup af­ter an ACL in­jury in the lat­ter part of 2010. His pe­sk­i­ness and en­ergy usu­ally set the tone for the Car­di­nals, whether he starts or comes off the bench. Off-guard Rodel Ranises, an­other player on his fi­nal year, can spark the of­fense if he can in­ject more con­sis­tency into his three-point shoot­ing arse­nal (31 per­cent). Swing­man Ken­neth Ighalo’s ath­leti­cism and de­fen­sive ethos should land him more min­utes this year while rugged rookie Ja­son Can­tos pro­vides sup­port. One-time PCU Dol­phin Jumel Chien and Ellison Maniego will vie for play­ing time in the back­court.

Coach­ing

Vic­tolero, a Mapúa alum, has seen his de­fense-first phi­los­o­phy grow with the team he in­her­ited back in Sea­son 84. Last year, the red­birds were sec­ond only to San Beda in de­fen­sive field goal per­cent­age (36 per­cent), a fig­ure that af­firms how much the play­ers have bought into his sys­tem. One of Vic­tolero’s more pop­u­lar or­ders is hold­ing op­po­nents to “16 or less points a quar­ter,” a thought process his troops have em­braced.

As­sist­ing Vic­tolero are for­mer team­mate Randy Al­can­tara and Yong Gar­cia, an ex­pe­ri­enced tac­ti­cian who’s won cham­pi­onships in leagues like the UCAA and NCRAA.

In­tan­gi­bles

Endgame poise was an is­sue Vic­tolero had to ad­dress in 2010 as nu­mer­ous late-game col­lapses stained his squad’s per­for­mance the year prior. “I think they’re more ex­pe­ri­enced this year. They’re learn­ing how to ex­e­cute in the endgame and are much bet­ter than when I was in my first year,” he ex­plains.

An­other area of concern the past sea­sons was the per­ceived ab­sence of a vo­cal and emo­tional spit­fire. The de­par­ture of sea­soned vet­er­ans Macky Acosta, Er­win Cornejo and TG Guillermo could po­ten­tially cre­ate a lead­er­ship vac­uum, but Vic­tolero feels that Taha and his vet­er­ans can fill that void. “Even if he’s just a rookie, Taha leads the hud­dle and is very vo­cal. Al­lan and Sara [Sarangay] are more vo­cal now, [too]. They talk more and en­cour­age team­mates more. I’m ex­pect­ing a lot from them,” he says.

Out­look

The Car­di­nals should be a bet­ter and more com­pet­i­tive unit come Sea­son 87 as the en­try of their re­cruits seems to out­weigh the per­son­nel lost to grad­u­a­tion. Man­ga­has and Co., in fact, look primed to crack the big time, which means a mere Fi­nal Four berth won’t do jus­tice to the squad’s tal­ent.

C PF SF SG PG

Yousef Taha Mark Sarangay Josan Nimes Al­lan Man­ga­has Jonathan Ba­nal

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