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Red Robins cop 92nd NCAA basketball championship

Friday, November 11, 2016

(L-R) NCAA Season 92 Finals Most Valuable Player Brian Samudio and the Red Robins' Team Captain Warren Bonifacio

The good matchup of headstrong rookies and veterans ended the Mapúa-Malayan Red Robins’ 16-year drought when they finally clinched the championship title in the 92nd season of the National Collegiate Athletics Junior Basketball Finals.

The team won against NCAA Juniors defending champions the San Beda Red Cubs, 83-64, ending the Red Cubs’ seven-year reign.

“This has been the team’s goal ever since our preparations last summer,” Red Robins head coach Randy Alcantara said of the championship title.

Despite the setbacks the team experienced, one of which was ace player Mike Enriquez’s injury during the first round of the competition, the team managed to cop a 7-2 standing in the first round and finishing the second round with 15 wins and 3 losses to enter the final four berth.

With Enriquez gone for almost all of the games during the first round, Alcantara witnessed the improvement of Warren Bonifacio, Romuel Junsay, Jasper Salenga, and Bryan Samudio, as they stepped up to fill the loss of one of the team’s key players. Samudio bagged the Finals MVP award when he showed great skill and performance during crucial moments of the competition.

“Every game, there is someone who will step up and improve his game, be it in offense or defense, from point guard to center,” said Alcantara. The team also relied on rookies Clint Escamis, Will Gozum, and Brian Lacap.

According to Warren Bonifacio, the team’s captain, the Red Robins’ improved defense played a big part in winning their games. “We practiced our defense before every game because we know that if the team’s defense is weak, it will be our loss,” he said.

As the captain, he encouraged his teammates to work harder and surpass their own limits.

For Samudio, teamwork was a big factor in their success.

“During our game with Arellano Braves, our team was undermanned to just eight players, but we still won against their complete line-up,” the Finals MVP said. He added that Alcantara always reminded the team to work hard.

Red Robins' Head Coach Coach Randy Alcantara

“Coach always tells us to not mind if we are leading [the score] or not. We must not relax once we are on the court,” Samudio said.

“I always tell them to act and work as the champion team—when it comes to defense, offense, rebound, how to fight every ball possession, how to save every loose ball, and the character inside the court,” Alcantara said. He added that he reminds the team every practice to focus on what needs improvement.

For next season, Alcantara said that the team will have a big adjustment, as some of its key players will graduate. For one, he will guide the shooting and passing skills, and individual and team defense of the players. The Red Robins’ big men, Gozum and Bonifacio, will also have to work in controlling the boards for better rebounds and a better fast break system.

Meanwhile, the point guards Enriquez, Junsay and Joaquin Garcia need to bring the leadership skills they gained this season in order to guide their teammates.

“I encourage the team to level up and be the champions they are now. I always reiterate, we are not going to the court just to play, we are going there to win,” Alcantara concluded.

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