Coming off a thrilling win against the Letran Knights last Friday, the Mapua University Cardinals bucked a late-game upset attempt by the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals to take a 79-76 victory in the NCAA Season 95 Seniors Basketball Tournament, Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“Credit naman doon sa EAC, talagang mas aggressive sila. Nung start pa lang, mas mataas yung energy nila sa amin lumamang sila. So, halftime nag-huddle kami. [Sinabi namin na] Kailangan matapatan lang namin yung energy nila,” said Mapua head coach Randy Alcantara.
Down by two points in the final frame, 60-62, Noah Lugo and Laurenz Victoria engineered an 18-6 run. They gave Mapua a commanding 10-point advantage in the last two minutes.
Lugo — who came off a 31-point career-best performance — fired 16 points, four rebounds, and two assists to lead the Cardinals to their second straight victory.
Warren Bonificio chipped in a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds in the victory. Meanwhile, Laurenz Victoria — who left the game with 46 seconds left after landing on Adrian De Guzman’s right foot — finished the match with 11 points.
Not wanting to go down without a fight, Marvin Taywan fired four points in the Generals’ 8-0 rally to cut the Cardinals lead to just two points.
Taywan had the chance to take the game from Mapua, but air-balled a three-pointer in the dying seconds of the game. Taywan then fouled Lugo whom iced the game after a split from the charity line.
With the victory, Mapua upped their slate to 5-7, and kept their NCAA Season 95 Final Four hopes alive.
The Cardinals missed the services of rookie Paolo Hernandez, who is currently nursing a knee injury.
EAC — who are now on a ten-game losing streak with a 1-11 card — were led by JP Maguliano with 15 points and five rebounds.
Taywan ended with 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, while De Guzman had 12 markers.
Mapua look to continue their streak on Tuesday, September 24, when they face the Arellano Chiefs. Meanwhile, EAC will try to get their second victory on Friday, September 27, against the San Sebastian Stags.
MU 79 — Lugo 16, Bonifacio 13, Victoria 11, Gonzales 9, Gamboa 7, Bunag 6, Serrano 5, Nieles 4, Nocum 4, Salenga 2, Aguirre 2, Garcia 0.
EAC 76 — Maguliano 15, Taywan 13, De Guzman 12, Mendoza 10, Dayrit 8, Cadua 7, Gurtiza 4, Luciano 3, Estacio 2, Martin 2, Gonzales 0.
Quarterscores: 17-20, 35-43, 58-56, 79-76.
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