Mapua University held strong against a late rally from San Sebastian College-Recoletos, securing an 80-70 victory to open its NCAA Season 98 Seniors Basketball campaign on Tuesday at the Filoil Ecooil Centre in San Juan.
In his return to the NCAA, Clint Escamis played a pivotal role in Mapua’s win, contributing on both ends with 12 points, seven assists, and four steals.
Despite starting the game slowly, the Cardinals maintained control for most of the match, leading by as much as 18 points, early in the final frame.
With 3:54 left in the final quarter, Escamis had to be carried off the floor due to cramps, and San Sebastian saw an opportunity to mount a comeback.
A layup from Raymart Escobido cut the lead to 70-77 with 39 seconds remaining, but a clutch three-pointer from Bonifacio sealed the win and spoiling the San Sebastian debut of head coach John Kallos.
Cardinals head coach Randy Alcantara later praised Escamis for his contributions on both ends of the court in the guard’s NCAA return.
“Alam naman natin since high school pa lang, alam natin na buong buo yon magdedeliver, hindi lang sa offense, pero pati sa defense,” said Alcantara.
Senior Warren Bonifacio and rookie JC Recto also chipped in with 16 and 15 points, respectively, for the Cardinals. The two also combined to grab 17 rebounds.
Escamis’ fellow Red Robin product Paolo Hernandez also got 12 points and six rebounds.
Mapua’s next challenge will be against San Beda University on Friday at 4:00 PM at the Filoil Ecooil Centre.
Rafael Are led all players in scoring with 18 points for San Sebastian, but he was limited to only three points in the second half as Mapua focused on him defensively.
Escubido and Romel Calahat added 13 and 10 points, respectively, with the latter also grabbing 13 rebounds.
In their elimination round matchups in Season 98, the two schools each claimed one victory over the other, with San Sebastian winning 57-56 in round one, and Mapua retaliating with a 75-67 triumph in round two.
On the other hand, after falling to 0-1, the Stags will prepare for their next battle against Arellano University on Saturday at 9:30 AM, also at the same San Juan venue.
Mapua 80- Bonifacio 16, Recto 15, Escamis 12, Hernandez 12, Sopriano 8, Cuenco 6, Rosillo 5, Dalisay 3, Asuncion 2, Bancale 1, Morenos 0, Fornis 0
San Sebastian 70- Are 18, Escobido 13, Calahat 10, Desoyo 9, Felebrico 6, Una 5, Gabat 4, de Leon 3, Shanoda 2, Sumoda 0, Gabat 0, Aguilar 0
Quarterscores: 12-18, 39-36, 57-45, 80-70.