Season hosts Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals were on the verge of losing its first two games of their young NCAA Season 91 campaign late Thursday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City. The Cardinals did not allow this in blasting the Stags with a furious rally and take their first win of the season, 88-86.
Here’s an account of the epic Cardinal rally that led the hosts to their first win in the seniors basketball tournament:
The Stags blistered out of the gate in the fourth quarter, going on a 12-2 run that gave them a hefty 77-69 advantage. Mapua’s again had problems tracking down the San Sebastian cherry pickers and kept them behind, 86-79 with 2:13 left in the game. From there, the Mapuans scrapped together a colossal run, preventing the Stags from scoring another point and found nifty ways of scoring off drawing fouls and putbacks. Allwell Oraeme scored on back-to-back possessions to cut the Stags’ lead. On the defensive end, the Nigerian blocked Ortuoste with 1:11 remaining to make it 83-86. Things got interesting as Nimes followed the stop with a floater that cut the SSC-R lead down to one, 86-85. The Cardinals then followed up by stifling the SSC offense off a timeout, forcing a turnover which resulted into two CJ Isit charities, putting Mapua up 87-86. San Sebastian had multiple looks at the basket in the ensuing possesion, but none of their four attempts at the paint dropped. Mapua’s Medina split two charities then helped stop a last ditch Stags effort to steal the game.
Team captain Josan Nimes told us that playing intense defense was the first step in making that rally. “It was just about getting stops coaches [Atoy Co and Ed Cordero] told us,” the 24 year old said.
Nimes’ floater, that cut the lead to just one, actually was not a play designed for him according to the Mapuan. “We actually ran the play for Allwell [Oraeme]. They [the Stags’ defense] were collapsing. That’s why I got open and knocked down the shot.”
Moreover, Nimes credited the unheralded play of second unit member Andretti Stevens for the stops made in the latter half of the game. “Andretti didn’t really play that much in the first half but he really did a good job on their guards,” he narrated. “Their guards were always penetrating and we got in trouble halftime because of that.” He added that Stevens was the boost they needed to make the necessary stops.
In addition, young 19-year old foreign student athlete Allwell Oraeme anchored the defense as well. The much-hyped big man who was impressive in the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup tournament showed that he is a force to be reckoned with in posting this monstrous statline: 15 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks.
The Premier Cup defensive player of the tournament was all over the Stags in the finals minutes of the game that resulted to contested layups and blocked shots. “Every time I see someone drive to the basket, I just want to get my hands on the ball and get the block. That’s what I do. Good thing I did not hit the forearm. I love to get blocks but hopefully no foul!” he quipped.
If the Cardinals play with the same intensity they displayed in the latter half of their game against San Sebastian, this squad can make waves in this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. They have the pieces, what they need is the consistency.