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Cardinals rob win from Red Lions to end FilOil stint in good spirits

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The Mapúa Institute of Technology Cardinals pulled out an upset of sorts, beating the San Beda College Red Lions with the score of 67-64, in their last FilOil Flying V Premier Cup game Wednesday evening at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

Unsurprisingly, the defending NCAA champions, San Beda, raced to an early 9-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game. During that stretch, big man Tankoua used his size advantage inside the paint to score seven of those unanswered San Beda points. As a response, Mapúa shuffled their roster in order to find an optimal combination on the floor. Having brought in Josan Nimes and Allwell Okaeme, the Cardinals mustered five quick points to get them into the game.

The Bedans, however, restored the gap to eight after the first 10 minutes with Tankoua wrecking havoc to score 11 in the period–two more than Mapúa’s output. In the second quarter, the trend continued as both teams virtually traded baskets heading into halftime. A Ronel Villaseñor triple, however, in the last minute of the half allowed the Cardinals to enter the interval only down by five at 30-35.

After the break, San Beda similarly opened the second half the way they began the game. Eight straight points for them restored the lead to 13, the biggest in the game. At that point, the Red Lions appeared destined to take home the victory, despite resting key players such as Baser Amer, Art Dela Cruz, and Ola Adeogun.

The Cardinals, still trailing since the opening minute of the game, kept it close to end the third canto down by just seven. Furthermore, Mapúa’s Justin Serrano and Stephen Que played big roles in their team’s bid to take the victory away from the Red Lions. Yet, at the end of the day, it was ace Cardinal, Nimes, who lifted his team past the Red Lions. The athletic forward scored nine points in the final period, including five huge ones in the last two minutes.

He first gave Mapúa a first taste of the lead with 52 seconds remaining, 62-61, courtesy of an uncompleted hoop and harm play. After an empty San Beda possession, Carlos Isit drained two free throws to extend the advantage to three. In the ensuing play, Dan Sara sank a three to level the score at 64-all.

After a Mapúa timeout, Nimes did what he does best, another and-one play; this time completed to regain the three-point lead. Bedan guard, Amiel Soberano had a good look in what was a potential overtime-sending triple, but he missed to the delight of the Mapúa gallery in attendance.

In the absence of Head Coach Fortunato “Atoy” Co, Assistant Coach Ed Cordero of Mapúa stressed in the post-match press conference that what took place in the game is far from what will possibly happen on opening day of the NCAA Season against the same team. “We have a long way to go,” he claimed. In addition, he said the two teams, mainly San Beda, appeared to have conducted experiments in their rotations. He also thinks that the team still has problems in playing well on a consistent basis, something that will help them go further if properly addressed.

With the result, the Cardinals garnered their third win in eight games to conclude their participation positively. On the other hand, the Red Lions are still not assured of a quarterfinals place, as they currently hold a 5-2 record. They will close out the elimination round against the UE Red Warriors.

The Scores:

Mapua (67) — Nimes 19, Que 12, Serrano 10, Oraeme 7, Villaseñor 7, Isit 4, Nieles 2, Biteng 2, Raflores 2, Dela Rosa 2, Braña 0, Layug 0

San Beda (64) — Tankoua 15, Sara 11, Mocon 10, Sedillo 7, Soberano 6, Abuda 6, Tongco 5, Presbitero 4, Abude 0, Alas 0, Carlos 0, Reyes 0

Quarters: 9-17, 30-35, 41-48, 67-64

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