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Tiebreaker Times


Menina goes berserk as Mapua sends Letran to 2nd straight loss

Letran have failed to close out another team from Intramuros.

Darell Menina went on one of the best hot streaks of the season, scoring 12 points in the final quarter to help lift the Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals past the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 79-75, to close out the first round of the NCAA Season 92 Seniors Basketball tournament, Tuesday afternoon.

Allwell Oraeme played all 40 minutes in the game, finishing with a statline of 20 points and 20 rebounds. Fellow frontcourt-mate Joseph Eriobu also tallied his best game of the season, with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

However, the gunslinger from Cebu was the star of the game.

“Nag-shoot lang ako with confidence kasi nung first half hindi ako maka-shoot,” he shared about his hot fourth quarter. “Nung second half bumawi na lang ako.”

The Cardinals could not seem to get over the hump early in the final frame. With four minutes left in the game and with Letran up by three, 67-64, Menina was fouled while attempting a three-pointer, but could only make two, to cut the lead to just a solitary point. Jerrick Balanza extended the lead to three with a floater.

Menina, feeling it, knocked down a triple followed by a quick layup off of a miss by Jom Sollano to give Mapua a 71-69 lead. Sollano was able to tie the game after a putback from a JP Calvo miss. The Letran center though committed an off ball foul on Oraeme. In addition, the Muralla Street cagers were already in the penalty as early as seven minutes into the quarter.

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Two free throws by Oraeme and a huge step-back three by Menina from the top of the arc gave Mapua a 76-71 lead with 1:07 remaining.

“Hindi, na off-balance kasi may bantay nun,” Menina said regarding how he had backpedalled as his third three of the game was falling. “Akala ko nga para akong Steph Curry.”

A split on the stripe by Bong Quinto and a three by ace wingman Rey Nambatac gave Letran some life, cutting the lead to just one with 37 ticks left. In the next possession, the returning CJ Isit was trapped by Sollano and Balanza and committed a turnover.

However, Nambatac missed a triple, while a set on the stripe by Laurenz Victoria gave Letran a chance to at least tie the game. However, Quinto, who was trying to look for the open man, travelled as he was about to make a hand-off that left 2.9 seconds on the clock. Free throws by Eriobu sealed the win for Mapua.

“I’m just happy we just had the win today,” said the reigning NCAA MVP. “We’ve been struggling the entire week, it just feels good to win.”

With the win, the Cardinals take solo fourth with a 6-3 slate, while the Knights fall to fifth place at 5-4 to close out the round.

The Scores:

MIT (79) – Oraeme 20, Eriobu 19, Menina 17, Isit 9, Orquina 4, Biteng 3, Victoria 3, Estrella 2, Serrano 2, Raflores 0

CSJL (75) – Quinto 20, Sollano 16, Nambatac 13, Calvo 9, Balanza 8, Luib 7, Ambohot 2, Apreku 0, Bernabe 0

Quarterscores: 19-22, 38-42, 54-58, 79-75

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