Josan Nimes and Kenneth Ighalo played with all their hearts to lead Mapua to a come-from-behind 67-63 win over sliding Emilio Aguinaldo College in Season 88 of the NCAA at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Cardinals improved their win-loss record to 2-1 while the Generals slipped to 1-3.
Ighalo grabbed 23 rebounds, tying the season record set by Calvin Abueva, and added 13 points, while Nimes led all scorers with 22.
The Generals looked like they were in control of the game in the first half, leading 36-23 at the break, before a gallant comeback by Mapua.
“Nung first half, actually ang game plan namin is nakaconcentrate kami kay Happi (Noube, EAC’s Cameroonian center),” said Mapua coach Chito Victolero. “Eh nag-decoy sya at yung sila Chiong, Tayongtong ang gumagawa. They played three guards pa. Hindi sila nag-zone, kami naman nag-zo-zone.
“So in the second half, I told them we have to adjust and that every basket counts. We need to make those layups.”
The Cardinals outscored the Generals, 21-8, in the third quarter to tie the game as they limited EAC to just three field goals.
In the final period, a three-pointer from rookie Andoy Estrella opened the scoring for the Cardinals, breaking the deadlock in favor of Mapua, 47-44.
Nimes took charge down the stretch as he scored twelve points in the final ten minutes to tow Mapua to its second straight win after dropping its opening day game vs JRU.
Ighalo, a third-year forward from La Union, credited the team’s intensity for the victory. “Nandun kasi yung desire to win. In the first half, frustrated ako pero nung second half, naka-execute na.”
Victolero, meanwhile, said it was another step in the maturity of his budding star Nimes, last season’s Rookie of the Year.
“Josan is a very talented player. Ang kulang nalang talaga and hinihintay ko is yung maturity nalang. He’s only in his second year, and I know soon, makikita natin yan lalo sa games nya,” said Victolero.
Mapua (67) – Nimes 22, Ighalo 13, Parala 12, Banal 7, Estrella 6, Chien 4, Abad 3, Cantos 0, Stevens 0.
EAC (63) – Happi 21, Monteclaro 9, Chiong 9, Jamon 8, Tayongtong 7, Munsayac 5, Yaya 4, Paguia 0, King 0.
Quarters: 8-15, 23-36, 44-44, 67-63
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