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Mapua pushes for playoff spot with demolition of EAC

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The logjam continues.

With a JRU win earlier today, the Mapua Institute of Techonology Cardinals joined the 12-6 crew as they end their elimination games with a blowout win against the cellar-dealing Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 88-63 and keep their season alive at the Filoil Flying V Arena on Friday afternoon.

The frontline crew of both teams came to play early with a fast joust between Allwell Oraeme and Hamadou Laminou being showcased. Mapua entered the penalty situation early, giving the Generals a lot of free throw attempts during the opening frame. EAC also limited the Cardinals to a scoreless five-minute drought in the middle of the first quarter that enabled them to build a 12-7 cushion. However, Mapua responded well by making four straight field goals in the last two minutes of the quarter including three baskets from JP Nieles. They would eventually end the period up by a point, 15-14.

The three-guard setup of Mapua was effective in transition as they kept running for their points. The number of lead changes and deadlocks also piled up during the second canto with a good exchange of outside shots by the teams being displayed. But just like in the first, Mapua would then again finish the quarter strong now with five straight layups in the last 3 minutes of the first half with CJ Isit and Josan Nimes scoring productively in transition.

As the Cardinals led by three at the break, the Generals were still knocking on the door despite 19 first half turnovers due to their 13 offensive rebounds. Mapua then fed their bigs in the interior as Mark Brana and Allwell Oraeme dominated the inside battle and score on plenty of paint points. Mapua’s defense also limited the Generals scoring to only eight points in the first six minutes of the second half while the frontcourt duo of the Cardinals kept on feasting in the paint.

Mapua then outscored EAC 20-12 in the third canto capped by a buzzer-beating layup by Brana to slowly shift the momentum in their side exclusively. By the fourth period, Mapua pounced more on the struggling Generals with good ball movement to locate their snipers from downtown while playing splendid defense on the other end.

Six quick points to start the final chapter pretty much closed the deal for the Cardinals as their core scorers were making the big shots to keep their season alive. Shane Menina also played big in the fourth, coming up with deflections and easy layups for Mapua. To add to their woes, Sidney Onwubere fouled out of the match to make things harder for the Generals as Mapua punched its ticket to the post-elimination round phase

“Depensa pa rin ang nagdala sa amin,” Mapua head coach Atoy Co said after the game. The Cardinals were able to limit the EAC Generals to just 36% shooting but, more importantly, forced 29 turnovers that led to 28 turnover points. “In any basketball game the key is defense,” the PBA legend emphasized.

“Dikit yung laban kasi yung depensa namin nabreak,” he reflected about the first half of the game. “Nag adjust kami and they responded. Puwede kasi kami matalo sa larong ito. E ‘di nasayang lahat ng pagod at hirap namin. Nagrespond sila nung sinabi ko iyon.”

Looking forward to the playoffs, coach Atoy Co believes that their chance is 50/50 to go all the way but more importantly for him, they brought Mapua basketball back. “Dati hindi naman kami napapansin. Baka nga yung mga ibang team hindi na naghahanda noon pag kami ang nakakalaban. Ngayon, napag-uusapan na kami.” He even joked that, “isa pa sa nagpag-usapan yung naghubad yung Atoy Co.”

The Mapua Cardinals had six players score in double-digits spearheaded by foreign student-athlete Allwell Oraeme’s double-doubl. Oraeme notched 16 markers and 15 boards in their final regular season game. Rain or Shine Elasto Painter-bound Josan Nimes had a spectacular outing as well with 16 points, on 60% shooting, and dished out seven assists.

For the hapless Generals, Sidney Onwubere still managed to score 21 points and grab 11 boards even after a hit and in just 28 minutes of play. Hamadou Laminou also grabbed a double-double with 11 points and ten boards. Smart Elite ambassador Francis Munsayac was limited to just eight points. He added three rebounds and two assists to his statline.

With the win, the Mapua Cardinals ended the second round with an 8-1 slate for a 12-6 record. Moreover, the hosts are guaranteed of a playoff spot and will have to wait for the result of the Letran-Perpetual tilt. The EAC Generals finished the tournament at last place with a 2-16 record.

The Scores:
MIT (88) – Oraeme 16, Menina 14, Brana 14, Nimes 13, Nieles 12, Isit 11, Biteng 3, Serrano 3, Aguirre 2, Raflores 0.
EAC (63) – Onwubere 21, Laminou 11, General 8, Munsayac 8, Diego 5, Mejos 2, Pascual 0, Corilla 0, Mallari 0.
Quarterscores: 15-14, 41-38, 61-50, 88-63.

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