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NCAA 97: Mapua bucks San Sebastian fightback, keeps pace with SBU, CSJL

Mapua University averted a meltdown, fending off San Sebastian College-Recoletos, 65-59, to take its third straight win in the NCAA Season 97 seniors basketball tournament, Tuesday at La Salle Greenhills’ St. Benilde Gym in Mandaluyong City.

After trailing by as much as 19 with three minutes left in the third period, the Golden Stags took it to the Cardinals with a huge 5-0 run at the start of the final quarter before JM Calma and Ichie Altamirano cut it to a four-point game, 55-59, with 2:07 left in the game.

That turned out to be San Sebastian’s last charge as Mapua found their hero in the next play.

Paolo Hernandez, who had been struggling in the game, was at the right place at the right time to get that Brian Lacap miss. The 6’2″ shooter then drilled a triple with 1:47 left in the game to extend the lead, 62-55.

The Mapua had to seal the deal on the defensive side as Warren Bonifacio intercepted a pass from Altamirano, and Hernandez made the insurance free throws.

Bonifacio finished the game with a double-double of 16 markers and 14 rebounds. He also grabbed two assists and one block along with that game-winning steal.

Brian Lacap chipped in 14 markers, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal. while Hernandez ended with 12 points despite the 30-percent shooting clip to go with eight boards, four assists, two steals, and a block.

Head coach Randy Alcantara admitted, “Sa totoo lang hindi ko rin naman [ine-expect] na mag-start kami ng 3-0, pero yun nga sa sipag ng mga players, sumusunod sila sa gusto mong ipagawa sa kanila.

“Yung tapang ng dibdib at lakas ng loob nila sa end game. Buti na lang nakapag-execute kami ng gusto naming ipagawa,” he continued.

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Sen Sebastian saw Calma put up 10 points, adding nine boards and one steal. Altamirano likewise ended with 10 markers, two rebounds, and one steal.

The Cardinals zoomed to a share of the lead along with Colegio de San Juan de Letran and San Beda University. Meanwhile, the Stags dropped to 1-2.

Mapua will go for their fourth straight against fellow undefeated Colegio de San Juan de Letran (3-0) on April 8 at 12 NN., while San Sebastian will battle San Beda University (3-0) later in the day at 3 p.m.

The Scores:

Mapua 65 – Bonifacio 16, Lacap 14, Hernandez 12, Nocum 8, Mercado 6, Pido 4, Garcia 2, Agustin 2, Milan 1, Sual 0.

San Sebastian 59 – Calma 10, Altamirano 10, Calahat 8, Villapando 8, Sumoda 6, Dela Cruz 6, Cosari 2, Are 2, Shanoda 2, Felebrico 1, Una 0, Desoyo 0, Loristo 0, Abarquez 0, Gabat 0.

Quarterscores: 7-12, 29-23, 53-41, 65-59.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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