In their penultimate game before its toughest stretch in the first round, the Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals took home a must-win game.
Mapua torched the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Golden Stags in an 88-75 bounce back win Friday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
With team captain CJ Isit spraining his finger late in the opening quarter, the troika of Exe Biteng, Darell Menina, and Andrew Estrella stepped up for the Cardinal backcourt. Biteng knocked down five triples in the game for 19 points to lead Mapua while Menina and Estrella scored 15 and 14 points respectively. Estrella dished out seven assists as well.
“Daliri e nung pag-pick,” Mapua head coach Atoy Co said about Isit’s injury. “Actually, I’ll give it to Menina. He played really well.”
“Nilagnat kasi ako [nung last game],” Menina shared. “Hindi ko kaya talaga kaya bumawi ako ngayon. Nag-step up din ako kasi wala si CJ. Binwenas lang pumasok yung tira ko.”
The Cardinal were able to take control of the game after a 31 point second quarter that gave Mapua a 51-42 lead entering halftime. The Stags though started hot in the third frame, cutting the lead to just five, 56-51, behind six points from the foul-plagued Alvin Capobres. Mapua banger Justin Serrano ended the quarter strong for the Cardinals, scoring six of Mapua’s last eight points in the quarter.
Michael Calisaan tried to will Baste back in the game in a 6-2 run to cut the lead to just 10 with 7:38 remaining. However, Mapua’s floor general Estrella was on-point with his passes, dishing out four straight assists capped by a find to a wide-open Menina for a triple that gave Mapua a game-high 83-65 lead with five minutes remaining.
“We really needed this game. Yung next three games namin mahirap,” Co said. “Sana in the next three games, maka-isa or dalawa kami para maganda standing namin.”
Oraeme bounced back from his worst game of the season with 13 points, 22 rebounds, and five blocks.
For San Sebastian, Justine Mercado led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Regile Ilagan added 17 points, five from downtown.
Mapua (4-2) start its toughest stretch of the season so far on Thursday, July 28 against the San Beda Red Lions. San Sebastian (1-4) look to snap out of its streak on Tuesday, July 26, facing the red-hot Lyceum Pirates.
MIT (88) – Biteng 19, Menina 15, Estrella 14, Oraeme 13, Eriobu 12, Isit 7, Serrano 6, Orquina 2, Aguirre 0, Bunag 0, Victoria 0.
SSC-R (75) – Mercado 18, Ilagan 17, Calisaan 9, Quipse 7, Capobres 6, Valdez 6, Fabian 5, Johnson 5, Bulanadi 2, Baetiong 0, David 0, Calma 0.
Quarterscores: 20-20, 51-42, 64-53, 88-75.