Having been on the brink of falling out of the playoff race during the past few days, the Philip Bagalay led Mapua Cardinals took their last three games of the tournament, capped with a title-clinching 21-19, 21-18 win against Rey and Relan Taneo of the undefeated University of Perpetual Help Altas, on the sands of the Subic Park Hotel in Olongapo City.
“Actually, hindi mawawala ‘yung pressure pero kailangan lang namin hanapin ‘yung enjoyment namin sa loob ng court,” Bagalay told Tiebreaker Times. “Ganoon lang talaga, you have to know your partner very well, you have to communicate and never stop communicating. Kasi iyon ang key para manalo.”
It was an impressive run for Mapua, as they had faced a slew of tough opponents over the past days. Last Saturday, they eliminated the defending champion College of Saint Benilde Blazers and earlier today, they successfully overpowered the EAC Generals to earn the last Finals berth.
“Turning point talaga namin ‘yung Benilde kasi do-or-die iyon. And doon sa Benilde game, bumalik ang confidence namin. Noong natalo po namin sila, [sabi namin] may pag-asa pa tayo,” Finals MVP Peejay Cuzon told Tiebreaker Times.
With their newfound confidence, Mapua were able to solve the tough puzzle that Perpetual gave their opponents. During their Finals match, Mapua were able to gain big leads by displaying tight defense and smashing the ball hard whenever given the opportunity.
But Perpetual also had their moments. During the second set, Rey Taneo went on a scoring spree which trimmed the Mapua lead to 16-14. However, Cuzon fought back, coupled along with some lucky breaks due to Perpetual’s unforced errors, and blasted a series of power attacks en route to their title.
“We’re very happy. After a long time, ngayon lang nagkaroon ng trophy ulit ang Mapua. Very thankful po talaga kami,” Cuzon closed.