Connect with us
[adinserter block="13"] [adinserter block="3"]

Mapua buries Saint Benilde to continue Final Four push



“Isang talo lang todas na” was the mindset of coach Atoy Co and the Cardinals going into the final week of the season.

In their penultimate game for the elimination round, the Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals sniped the College of Saint Benilde Blazers 77-70 Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Coming from a 13 day break, the Mapua Cardinals started sluggish in this game as they committed various unforced turnovers to open the game. The season hosts sluggishly put up six points to open the first 3:40 of the game behind Allwell Oraeme. After free throws by the Blazers to cut the lead to just two, the JP Nieles-Darell Menina connection blasted a 12-0 rally all behind the sniping of Menina to push the lead to 18-4. However, after that rally, the Cardinal players failed to move the ball around while JR Ongteco willed his way inside to cut the Mapua lead to just seven, 18-11, to end the opening salvo.

The Blazer rally continued its rally heading on to the start of the second quarter in a 14-2 blast that tied the game at 20-all. A long jumper by JP Nieles momentarily stopped the bleeding but Fons Saavedra, JJ Domingo, and Rene Sta. Maria continued to push the pace for Benilde. In addition, energy guy Christian Fajarito and Ongteco helped the Taft cagers in sustaining possession as they combined for five offensive rebounds in the half. Oraeme though powered his way in the paint in scoring the last five points of the half to give Mapua a five point lead to enter halftime, 33-28.

Darell Menina and pro-bound Josan Nimes helped the hosts in retaining the lead in the third canto as Menina’s outside sniping and Nimes’ daredevil drives answered every point Domingo’s and Saavedra’s triples. The two teams exchanged baskets in a high-scoring quarter but the Blazers’ failed to make the stops to cut the lead as the Cardinals sustained its lead entering the final frame, 54-48.

The Saint Benilde faithful were hoping that Jonathan Grey, who is playing his last game in the NCAA, would erupt in his final collegiate quarter to lead an upset. But the pesky Mapua defense thought otherwise as they hounded the Smart Elite ambassador to a horrendous 1/12 outing. In addition, Oraeme anchored the inside defense, limiting the Blazers to just outside shots. Menina made it rain with long jumpers while CJ Isit threw outlets for easy baskets to extend the lead to 15, 71-56, with 3:13 to go. Rainbows by Travis Jonson, Domingo, Carlo Young, and Fons Saavedra made the score respectable, 77-72, in favor of the hosts.

“We have to win our last two games,” coach Atoy Co exclaimed after the game. “Whatever the outcome is, we are ready for the playoffs.”

However, the PBA legend was not pleased with how the Cardinals started this game. “I’m not happy with the win. They were complacent to start the game and we did not play our game on both ends of the court.” He further added that, “In the first two quarters, everyone wants to shoot. Nagsarili sila resulting to a 40-all tie.”

Fortunately for the team, Darell Menina once against saved the day with 17 points on 6/11 shooting, 3/5 coming from downtown. “Good thing Menina was the hero of the game as Allwell was forcing the dunks. Laro na nilalaro pa,” the PBA legend remarked about his two rookies.

Beisdes Biteng, Oraeme helped stabilize the Cardinals in notching another double-double with 15 markers and 23 boards. Guard Exe Biteng added 12 points, all scored in the first quarter.

For the Blazers, graduating player Fons Saaveddra with 19 points. He added six boards and five triples. JR Ongteco added 14 points and eight boards.
The Mapua Cardinals shot 43% from the field and was 8/21 from downtown compared to just 36% from the field for the Blazers. In addition, Mapua shot more free throws, 17/22, compared to just seven attempts for

The Mapua Institute of Techonology Cardinals (11-6) will play their final game of the elimination round on Friday, October 9 at 2:00pm against the EAC Generals. If the Cardinals win that game, they are assured of at least a playoff. The College of Saint Benilde Blazers finish their season with a 5-13 slate, good for seventh.

The Scores:
MIT (77) – Menina 17, Oraeme 15, Biteng 12, Nimes 9, Serrano 9, Isit 8, Nieles 5, Brana 2, Que 0, Aguierre 0, Raflores 0.
CSB (72) – Saavedra 19, Ongteco 14, Domingo JJ 10, Fajarito 7, Young 6, Jonson 5, Grey 4, Domingo JS 3, Sta. Maria 2, San Juan 2, Nayve 0, Deles 0, Castor 0, Flores 0.
Quarterscores: 18-11, 33-28, 54-48, 77-72.