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On fire! Mapua shackles Arellano to win sixth straight



The Cardinals are just finding ways to win!

After a slow first half, the Mapua Cardinals kept their hot streak going after coming from behind and beating the Arellano Chiefs 81-76 Friday in the NCAA Season 91 basketball tournaments at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

Allwell Oraeme notched another double-double performance, controlling the interior for the Cardinals as he wound up with 15 points and 30 rebounds.

It was the second straight 30-rebound outing for Oraeme, which also helped the Cardinals stun the Letran Knights. Mapua have now won six consecutive games, improving to 10-5 to tie Arellano for fourth spot in the team standings.

The Chiefs got off to a hot start after forcing turnovers and running the break. A 13-2 run to end the second quarter let ghe Legarda side built a 43-33 halftime lead behind 19 turnover points.

But in the third period, Exe Biteng waxed hot from the perimeter, scoring eight points including two treys as the Cardinals went on to cut the deficit down to only 50-53.

However, the Chiefs once again closed out the quarter on a strong note for a 62-54 lead entering the final frame.

Mapua then went big in the fourth, fielding in Justin Serrano and Brana to complement Oraeme underneath and stop the Chiefs’ attacks.

Arellano’s offense fizzled with Mapua’s tough interior defense, before baskets by Brana and an and-one play by Serrano capped a 17-4 Mapua surge that made it 71-66 for the Cardinals.

Jio Jalalon stopped the bleeding momentarily with a floater but a triple by Menina and another basket inside by Oraeme pushed the Mapua advantage up to 76-68.

A long two by Zach Nicholls and a three from Gumaru helped Arellano inch closer at 73-76 before Serrano responded with two charities, 78-73 Mapua.

Nicholls had another chance to pull the Chiefs closer but only sank 1-for-3 after being fouled by Oraeme from downtown, even as free throws by Nieles made it 81-74 under the final 15 seconds.

“It’s the same story. We’re not complete but our rookies and sophomores played like veterans,” a speechless Mapua deputy coach Ed Cordero said. “They have a high confidence level right now.”

This includes Cameroonian student-athlete Allwell Oraeme who again ran the marathon in playing 40 minutes and grabbed 13 rebounds. When asked how he does it, the 19-year old Center simply shrugged, “It just falls to me. I don’t know how but it just does. Nothing special.”

Exeqiel Biteng added 15 points for the Cardinals while Justin Serrano added 14.

For the Chiefs, Kent Salado led the team with 17 markers. Smart Elite ambassador Jio Jalalon had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds but committed 7 turnovers.

The Mapua Cardinals (4th, 10-4) will have a tough task in their next outing as they face the San Beda Red Lions on Friday, September 25 at 12:00nn while the Arellano Chiefs (5th, 10-4) have the Letran Knights in their next assignment on the same day at 4:00pm.

The Scores:

MIT (81) – Oraeme 15, Biteng 15, Serrano 14, Brana 11, Nieles 8, Menina 7, Que 3, Nimes 3, Raflores 3, Isit 2, Villasenor 0

AU (76) – Salado 17, Jalalon 16, Gumaru 13, Holts 9, Meca 7, Bangga 7, Cadavis 4, Nicholls 3, Capara 0, Enriquez 0, Ortega 0, Tano 0

Quarters: 23-20, 33-43, 54-62, 81-76