Coming off a character-building win over the JRU Heavy Bombers, the Mapua University Cardinals continued to ride their momentum, stunning the College of Saint Benilde Blazers, 86-83, at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The win kept Mapua’s playoff hopes alive, raising their slate to 4-8 –- three games behind Benilde, who dropped to 7-5. Moreover, the Cardinals have surpassed their win total from last season.
And just like last Thursday, it was Laurenz Victoria who stepped up and take the biggest shots.
“Siya na naman talaga, wala ng iba e. I’m giving him all the confidence dahil siya ang pinaka senior sa team. Dahil wala na si [Leo] Gabo at si Andoy [Estrella], he has to take charge,” shared fourth-year Cardinals head coach Atoy Co.
Behind Justin Gutang, the Blazers stormed back from 15 points down, taking a 72-70 lead with 5:56 left. Justin Serrano scored three straight buckets to give Mapua a 78-73 cushion.
That’s when Victoria took over.
The Mapua lifer scored on a running hook over Edward Dixon to extend their lead to seven. Jimboy Pasturan and Yankie Haruna tried to rally Benilde back, but Victoria knocked down another big bucket to stop them from their tracks.
Victoria had 16 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
“Yung sistema namin gumana na. Pag maganda yung sistema, maganda ang pasahan. Hindi maiiwasan ang pagkakamali pero babawi rin at babawi,” added Co.
A three-point play by Clement Leutcheu sliced the lead to just two with 57.6 ticks left, but a jumper by Warren Bonifacio proved to be the dagger.
Rookie Bonifacio tallied 12 points, five rebounds, four asissts, and two blocks, while Justin Serrano had 12 markers as well.
“We are just happy. Ang aming adjustment was not too much. I did not play everybody. Ngayon, kung sino lang nakikita ko sa ensayo na masipag, yun lang ang ginagamit ko,” Co disclosed.
Gutang’s 22-point, nine-rebound, six-rebound, and two-steal outing went to waste. Pasturan chipped in 16 points, while Leutcheu finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Mapua look to make it three in a row as they face the Letran Knights on Friday, September 21. Benilde, on the other hand, look to snap their skid when they take on the Arellano Chiefs on the same day.
MU 86 – Victoria 16, Bonifacio 12, Serrano 12, Lugo 11, Pelayo 10, Aguirre 9, Gamboa 8, Buñag 4, Jabel 2, Biteng 2, Nieles 0.
CSB 83 – Gutang 22, Pasturan 16, Leutcheu 15, Naboa 10, Nayve 10, Haruna 8, Dixon 2, Belgica 0, Velasco 0, Young 0.
Quarterscores: 28-19, 49-35, 63-55, 86-83