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Tiebreaker Times

Basketball

Mapua holds off San Beda, inches closer to NCAA 99 crown


Mapua University is just one win away from ending 32 years of tears, heartbreaks, and misery.

The top-seeded Cardinals, backstopped by a breakout outing by freshman Peter Rosillo, the heroics of presumptive Rookie MVP Clint Escamis, and big shots from senior gunner Paolo Hernandez, staved off the San Beda Red Lions, taking a 68-63 victory in Game One of the NCAA Season 99 Seniors Basketball Finals on Tuesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

This is the Cardinals’ first finals win since October 16, 1991.

Mapua, which also swept its elimination round series against San Beda, can clinch its first title since Season 79 — seventh overall— on Sunday.

Still, senior center Warren Bonifacio is not putting too much premium on this win, stressing that the job is not yet done.NCAA-99-Finals-MU-vs.-SBU-Yong-Garcia-2 Mapua holds off San Beda, inches closer to NCAA 99 crown Basketball MIT NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“We are glad na makuha namin yung first game sa series but job is not yet done. Kailangan paghandaan pa namin yung Game Two,” said Bonifacio, a graduating big man who was limited to just six points and two rebounds in the series opener.

And Game One proved to the Cardinals that the Red Lions won’t go down easily.

Leading 59-43 late in the third canto, Jacob Cortez, who was shackled by Rosillo in the first half, came alive.

Along with Oliver Tagle and James Payosing, Cortez’s crew chopped the lead down to 66-63.

Making matters worse, Escamis was in and out of the game due to cramping.

Still, Escamis nailed two clutch free throws with 8.1 seconds left to seal the deal for Mapua.NCAA-99-Finals-MU-vs.-SBU-Clint-Escamis Mapua holds off San Beda, inches closer to NCAA 99 crown Basketball MIT NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

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“End of third, nag-suffer ako sa cramps. Minanage ko yung team ko at nagpaalam ako sa team na sa fourth quarter ako babalik,” said Escamis, who wound up with 18 points, six rebounds, three steals, and two assists.

The crowning of Escamis as league MVP and Rookie of the Year will also take place on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Peter Rosillo, a freshman out of Adamson High School, provided the spark for Mapua, scoring eight of his 15 points in the opening quarter alone.

Yong Garcia had to call the shots for the majority of the second half as Randy Alcantara was rushed to the locker room due to high blood pressure.

Payosing led San Beda with 14 points and 12 rebounds while rookie Jomel Puno tallied 12 points and nine rebounds. Cortez was held to just a 3-of-17 shooting clip by Mapua for 12 points.

San Beda, meanwhile, is looking to win its first victory in the Finals since Game 2 of the Season 95 Finals.

The Scores:

Mapua 68- Escamis 18, Hernandez 16, Rosillo 15, Bonifacio 6, Recto 5, Cuenco 4, Soriano 4, Fornis 0, Dalisay 0

San Beda 63- Payosing 14, Puno 12, Cortez 12, Andrada 8, Jopia 8, Tagle 5, Cuntapay 2, Visser 2, Alfaro 0, Gonzales 0, Royo 0, Gallego 0

Quarterscores: 17-17, 36-31, 59-48, 68-63

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