With the departure of its graduating player and team captain Warren Bonifacio, holdovers and upcoming big men of Mapua Cardinals have big shoes to fill.

Bonifacio averaged 9.59 points and 5.91 rebounds per game while helping the Cardinals end its 31-year finals drought before losing to San Beda in a sudden death game three.

Head coach Randy Alcantara admitted that their goal of winning the championship for the NCAA’s Centennial Season will be tougher now that they will be missing the leadership and the presence of Bonifacio inside the paint.

“Goal naman ng lahat ng team yun eh pero syempre sabi ko nga mahihirapan at talagang yung last season bago naman kami nakarating sa finals talagang mahirap yung pinagdaanan namin,” he said.

Alcantara revealed to GMA Regional TV News that he is counting on their new recruits John Jabonete and Aaron Fermin along with holdovers Jopet Soriano and Resty Fornis to man the shaded area.

“Andun yung rookie namin na si John Jabonete, he is from Cebu and of course si Aaron Fermin na talagang makikita kong malaking maitutulong doon sa team namin” Alcantara said on their new recruits.

Jabonete, who hails from Placer, Masbate, last played for the Cebu Institute of Technology-University Wildcats in CESAFI.

“Number one sa kanya is yung physicality at saka syempre alam mo naman sa NCAA kailangan malakas yung katawan niya and of course nakitaan ko rin siya ng qualities na talagang bigman na fit sa systema namin at di naman siya nalalayo kay captain Warren Bonifacio” Alcantara shared.

Fermin, on the other hand, a native of Licab, Nueva Ecija, was a transferee from Adamson University.

He averaged 3.14 points and 2.64 rebounds while playing for the Falcons in his last season in the UAAP.

With their new additions and the extra motivated Cardinals led by current NCAA MVP Clint Escamis, Alcantara said they are taking it one game at a time.

“Unti-untiin natin ulit, every game, every position counts.”