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Alcantara likely to land Cardinals' coaching job

After steering the Mapua Red Robins to the NCAA Season 94 Juniors title, Randy Alcantara is now favored to move up to the Seniors ranks and become the head coach of the Cardinals.

"This is my last year in the Juniors," Alcantara revealed on Thursday after the Red Robins won over the CSB-LSGH Junior Archers in Game 3 of the finals. "I'm grateful that we won the championship before I start in the Seniors."

Last week, Mapua's head coaching job was left vacant after the departure of Atoy Co whose contract was not renewed by the school. Rumors swirled that Alcantara, an assistant coach to both the Red Robins and the UST Growling Tigers, was one of the top prospects to replace Co.

During the NCAA Juniors finals, Alcantara kept mum on the news to focus on coaching the Red Robins. After the grueling three-game series, Alcantara finally made his intentions known to move up to the Seniors division but was also clear in stating that no official signing has been made.

"I'm still in talks with the management. But there's no final word yet," he said in Filipino. "Still, I'm still grateful that in my last year in the Juniors, I was able to give a championship. Thank you to all the supporters especially to the players who worked together for this championship," he added.

Alcantara leaves the NCAA Juniors ranks with four finals appearances and two titles. Personally, the 47-year-old mentor is also proud of his accomplishment in rekindling the Mapua high school program.

"Before players wouldn't go to Mapua," said Alcantara, who started his coaching career in 2008 with a 0-14 record. "The the Final Four appearances started, then the finals, then the championship. Then players started coming in. The parents and the players trusted us. This is big for the future program of Mapua since we all know it's not that easy to scout and recruit. But once you establish being in the finals, and getting championships, the players will start coming in."

As Alcantara is being eyed as the next head coach of the Cardinals, he leaves with a proud legacy as one of the coaches that helped Mapua high school basketball make its return to prominence.

"I want to thank you to all those who helped turn the Red Robins program around," Alcantara said.

Mapua high school is currently tied with the San Beda Red Cubs as the winningest school in NCAA Juniors history with 22 championships.