The Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals made full use of their long layoff and returned to the court with a stunning upset of the Lyceum of the Philippines University, 25-18, 25-20, 22-25, 14-25, 15-13, Wednesday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Alfred Pagulong paced the Cardinals with 17 points, 15 off attacks. Mapua edged out the Pirates on spikes with 53 to 49.
It was the service reception of the Cardinals that stood out in the contest as they put up 51 excellent receptions as a team, with libero Dion Canlas leading with 38.
“Yung ginawa namin nung practice, yung mga naging errors namin the past three losses namin, kahit yung ibang tao ang sabi, kulang kami sa first ball namin, ginawan namin ng paraan,” Mapua head coach Mario Mia shared.
Mapua pounced on the faulty reception of the opponents to carve the 2-0 advantage. However, tables have turned in the next two sets as Lyceum leveled the match, leaning on first ball woes of the red-shirts.
Before the deciding fifth set, coach Mia appealed to the Cardinals’ psyche.
“Kung wala kayong guilt, ba’t kayo magda-doubt na napaghandaan natin ng maiigi tong game na to? Last night, kung pinaghandaan ng body niyo, ng mind niyo, ng heart niyo, bat kayo magda-doubt na kayo mananalo?”
He added, “Siguro gusto rin ng Lyceum manalo, pero, in the end, kung sino yung mas sumunod sa gameplan, yung ang mananalo.”
As a result, a more determined Mapua squad came out in that fifth set. Team captain Anjo Pertierra took charge for the Cardinals with most of his 10 markers coming in this crucial frame.
Joeward Presnede kept the Pirates in the match; however, two unfortunate errors from Lyceum conceded the match to the Cardinals. Presnede finished with 24 markers.
With Mapua winning, the race to the Final Four just got even tighter.
The Cardinals (3-3) will hope to continue the momentum when it faces the Letran Knights (1-4) on January 5 next year. The Pirates (2-3), on the other hand, will take on the defending champions Perpetual Altas (4-1) on January 13.
MIT (3) – Pagulong 17, Egan 12, Pertierra 10, Navera 9, Damian 8, Andaya 3, Evangelista 2, Hizon 0, Bondoc 0, Dais 0, Vargas 0, Canlas L.
LPU (2) – Presnede 24, Badua 14, Dulce 8, Samonte 6, Binas 6, Pecana 3, Saporna 1, Lajara 0, Ganilla 0, Calvo L, Rubio L.