The Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals showed no signs of rust after a week-long break from NCAA action.
Behind another stellar outing from reigning MVP Allwell Oraeme, Mapua shackled the Lyceum of the Philippines University, 75-64, to go to 3-0, the school’s best start since the year 2000, Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Allwell Oraeme posted his third double-double in as many games, with 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting from the field and 25 rebounds. In addition, the Nigerian student-athlete was able to record four dimes and five swats.
“It’s a wow,” said a delighted Mapua head coach Atoy Co about the win. “Actually yung break na ten days was torture. Ten days you are thinking of playing Lyceum and then they beat us in the pre-season twice.”
After a first half that saw both teams exchange the lead 11 times, the Cardinal defense locked down the Pirates in the third frame. Lyceum were limited to just a single field goal and scored just seven points during the quarter. At the other end, Exe Biteng led Mapua’s charge with ten points in the quarter to help give the league-leaders a game-high 18 point lead, 58-40.
“I still have some problems sa shooters namin,” Co confided, as the Cardinals went just 4-for-14 from downtown. “They are the missing link. In the previous two games of ours, we are lacking on our outside shooting. Fortunately, Allwell was there and Biteng was able to shoot.”
Topex Robinson and his Pirates did not go down without a fight. Lyceum started the final quarter at a blistering pace, going on a 10-0 run to start the quarter. They capped it with back-to-back and-one plays by Shaq Alanes and Mer Ayaay to cut the lead to just six, 58-52. Moreover, the two fouls sent the Cardinals to the penalty zone with 7:28 remaining in the game.
“It was scary,” Oraeme admitted about the Pirates rally.
The duo of Oraeme and CJ Isit stabilized the Cardinals after a three-point play by the former and a rainbow by the King Cardinal. However, the Pirates were able to take advantage of their foul-plagued opponents, as the Topex Robinson-mentored squad cut the lead to six once more, 70-64, with a minute and 19 seconds remaining. Splits on the stripe by Oraeme and Isit, and an emphatic rejection by Oraeme on Alanes, sealed the deal for Mapua with 26 seconds remaining.
“I just thank my teammates because they trust me and believe in me,” said a humbled Oraeme after the game.
The backcourt tandem of Isit and Biteng combined for 31 markers to complement their big man.
It was a double black eye for Lyceum, as Jebb Bulawan left the game due to a dislocated left shoulder with 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Last season’s slam dunk champion did not return to the game.
For the Pirates, Harry Nzeusseu notched a double-double with 16 points and 19 rebounds. Ayaay added 15 while Aldrin Serafico, Bulawan’s replacement, scored 11 markers.
The Mapua Cardinals (3-0, 1st) next face the EAC Generals on Friday, July 15 at 2:00pm. On the other hand, Lyceum (0-3, 10th) will play the JRU Heavy Bombers on the same day at 4:00pm.
MIT (75) – Oraeme 22, Isit 16, Biteng 15, Estrella 6, Menina 6, Eriobu 4, Serrano 4, Victoria 2, Magboo 0, Orquina 0, Raflores 0
LPU (64) – Nzeusseu 16, Ayaay 15, Serafico 11, Baltazar 7, Alban 6, Alanes 3, Caduyac 3, Bulawan 2, Malabanan 1, Rubite 0, Soliman 0, Magbuhos 0
Quarterscores: 20-22, 38-35, 58-42, 75-64