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Brana, Mapua send Jose Rizal to two-game funk



In a back-and-forth duel, Mapua avenged their first round loss with their close escape against the JRU Heavy Bombers, 68-67 held at the Filoil Arena on Tuesday.

The two teams combined for eight points in the first four minutes of action as they found themselves deadlocked at 4. Despite the slow start, Exe Biteng knocked down the game’s first triple as Mapua held the lead from that point until the end of the first quarter. Good defense also enabled the Cardinals to limit JRU from barging into double-digit scoring not until the dying seconds of opening frame. Paolo Pontejos and Marc Cruz scored the last four of JRU but they trailed, 17-13 after 10 minutes.

Despite Allwell Oraeme providing a good rim resistance for Mapua, the Heavy Bombers second unit fought for position and had a good share of rebounds to crawl back in the game as Pontejos gave JRU the lead. The Biñan-native scored 12 points in the period including a hot streak of baskets from the perimeter. The reinsertion of Josan Nimes helped Mapua build a 6-0 run at the end of the quarter but a steal by Teytey Teodoro led to the last basket of the first half by Jordan Dela Paz as the Bombers held a two point lead at the break.

Pontejos continued his hot streak with a pullup jumper to start the second half but that was before Mapua built its run to take the lead once again against the Bombers. Mapua used good passing in the inside to score high percentage from the field. Halfway through the period, Mark Brana scored two baskets to extend Mapua’s lead at 43-36. Leading MVP candidate Oraeme grabbed rebound after rebound as it helped dictate momentum for the Cardinals. At the end of the third, it was Mapua who held a 49-42 lead.

Mapua lost its lead as JRU built an 11-2 run to take the lead momentarily at 52-51. Suddenly. the game became a tightly-contested one in its frantic pace as the number of deadlocks piled up. Despite his slow start, Teodoro started to find his stride and make multiple baskets for JRU. With under four minutes left, TeyTey shattered the 59-all deadlock with a confident three-ball but was answered with an and-one play by Oraeme.

Fast forward to the 1:28 mark, Pontejos’ free throws ties the game anew at 65 as the teams went back and forth in the intense-filled period. After successive stops by the two teams, Ervin Grospe made a big basket plus a foul but missed the bonus. Afterwards, Mapua muffed two attemps from downtown but Brana’s and-one putback gave The Cardinals a 68-67 lead with 5.9 ticks left. On the other hand, Grospe missed the potential game-winner as Oraeme cleared the rebound.

“Lucky, lucky, lucky! We were lucky that Brana was under the goal for that putback and convert on the free throw. Lady luck is on our side,” an ecstatic Atoy Co said after the game. Moreover, he praised Brana’s commitment to make a mark in his last year in collegiate athletics. “Nawala siya [Brana] sa condition the other time. Minomotivate ko siya that this is your last year. You need to leave some legacy. Ano naman maiiwan mo if he is not going to contribute? He’s listening naman.”

Allwell Oraeme towered over the frontline of Jose Rizal in grabbing 27 huge rebounds in the game, 11 coming from the offensive end. He further added 19 points in the win. Exe Biteng and Mark Brana also contributed 12 points each with Brana also grabbing eight rebounds.

On the other hand, spitfire guard Paolo Pontejos led the Heavy Bombers with 21 points and added three steals and two blocks. Fellow backcourt mate and Smart Elite ambassador Tey Teodoro added 18 points on 7/13 shooting. He added seven rebounds and three assists.

The Mapua Cardinals (7-5) will look to extend their “luck” as they face the Lyceum Pirates on Friday, September 11 at 12nn while the JRU Heavy Bombers (6-6) are looking to break their losing streak against the EAC Generals on the same day at 2:00pm.

The Scores:
MIT (68) – Oraeme 19, Biteng 12, Brana 12, Isit 6, Nimes 6, Nieles 5, Menina 4, Serrano 2, Layug 2, Que 0, Aguirre 0.
JRU (67) – Pontejos 21, Teodoro 18, Grospe 8, Sanchez 6, Abdul Wahab 4, Dela Paz 4, Cruz 3, Poutouochi 2, Astilla 1, Lasquety 0, Aurin 0, Dela Virgen 0.
Quarterscores: 17-13, 29-31, 49-42, 68-67.