Scrappy late defense and offense keyed the hosts, Mapua Cardinals in their 88-86 comeback triumph over the new-look San Sebastian Stags in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the San Juan Arena.
Though much was made about their newly installed Triangle offense, the Stags did most of their damage in transition, forcing the Cardinals into 21 turnovers and converting 14 fastbreak points. Though SSC’s helter-skelter pace allowed them to stay ahead for much of the match, it also helped Mapua stay relatively close at the end of the first half with Baste ahead by only nine, 50-41.
The Cardinals established their bases in the third quarter, upping the pressure on San Sebastian’s ball handlers and stalling the Stags’ offense into contested jumpers. With the Stags leading 61-50, Mapua rifled off a 10-0 run off easy layups and smart halfcourt execution. Stags’ team captian, Jamil Ortuoste ended Mapua’s run with a floater with 3:00 remaining in the third frame but Mapua quickly found an answer in veteran Andretti Stevens. After sitting out the entire first half, Stevens came in late in the third canto and sparked a 4-0 run that gave Mapua its first lead of the game, 64-63. Mike Calisaan scored off a floater, momentarily giving SSC a 65-64 lead before Mark Aguirre hit buzzer beating three that pulled Mapua ahead 67-64 before the final quarter.
The Stags blistered out of the gate in the fourth quarter, going on a 12-2 run that gave them a hefty 77-69 advantage. Mapua’s again had problems tracking down the San Sebastian cherry pickers and kept them behind, 86-79 with 2:13 left in the game. From there, the Mapuans scrapped together a colossal run, preventing the Stags from scoring another point and found nifty ways of scoring off drawing fouls and putbacks. Allwell Oraeme scored on back-to-back possessions followed by a Nimes floater that cut the SSC-R lead down to one, 86-85. The Cardinals then followed up by stifling the SSC offense off a timeout, forcing a turnover which resulted into two CJ Isit charities, putting Mapua up 87-86. San Sebastian had multiple looks at the basket in the ensuing possession, but none of their four attempts at the paint dropped. Mapua’s Medina split two charities then helped stop a last ditch Stags effort to steal the game.
Mapua’s 19 year-old Nigerian foreign student athlete, Allwell Oraeme was dominant throughout the match, putting togeter a monstrous line of 15 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks. Mapua team captain, Nimes, continued his hot start after sitting out the past two seasons due to injuries, notching 20 points.
SSC team captain and former FEU Tamaraw, Jamil Ortuoste scored 12 points in the first quarter but petered out after that, finishing with 21 points. Mark Calisaan had a career game after being seldom used last season, dropping a line of 19 points and eight boards.
The Cardinals will next face the UPHSD Altas on Tuesday, July 7 at 4:00pm while the Stags face the SBC Red Lions on Thursday, July 9 at 4:00pm.
MIT (88)– Nimes 20, Brana 18, Oraeme 15, Isit 14, Que 7, Aguirre 7, Menina 4, Stevens 2, Villasenor 1, Serrano 0, Biteng 0, Dela Rosa 0, Raflores 0
SSC-R (86)– Ortouste 21, Calisaan 19, Costelo 16, Guinto 13, Fabian 13, Santos 4, Sibal 0, Pretta 0, Bulanadi 0, Vera 0, David 0, Capobres 0, Mercado 0
Quarters: 25-29, 50-41, 67-65, 88-86