Warren Bonifacio had an uncharacteristic outing in Mapua University’s bout against the College of Saint Benilde on Wednesday in the NCAA Season 99 Seniors Basketball Tournament.
The Cardinals’ reliable big man had gone scoreless in the first three quarters as Mapua trailed the Blazers for most of the match.
The combined length and size in the Blazers’ frontcourt, featuring reigning NCAA MVP Will Gozum and Miguel Corteza, made it hard for him to dominate the paint, and his outside shot refused to fall.
With Bonifacio struggling, the rest of Mapua refused to roll over. The Cardinals received massive contributions from role players like Jopet Soriano and JC Recto, who combined for 20 points in the game.
“Sabi naman lagi ng mga coaches na iready lahat.
“Siyempre, nandiyan naman lagi si Bonifacio, pero ang pinakamahalaga ay ang second unit na papalit, iyon ang talagang pinagtrabaho namin sa off-season. Ang second, third unit nandiyan lagi kasi doon rin kukunin ang game sa buong season. Handa si Jopet Soriano, si [Resty] Fornis, at si Recto. Iyon ang vital sa mga last possession namin,” said coach Randy Alcantara.
The Cardinals’ role players helped keep Mapua in the match until Gozum, Benilde’s star big man, fouled out in the fourth quarter, opening up the opportunity for Bonifacio to get back in the game.
In Gozum’s absence, Bonifacio scored six crucial points that helped the Cardinals secure the four-point, 75-71 victory.