The Mapua Cardinals completed a 61-54 upset win over the favored San Sebastian Stags on a rainy Monday evening clash in Season 88 of the NCAA at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
After a four-game losing skid, the Cardinals improved their record to 3-5 and tie first-game winners Arellano. The loss snapped the Stags’ six-game winning run for a 6-2 record.
The Cardinals, who came in with stifling defense, limited the San Sebastian Stags to just 15 points in the first half, tying JRU’s output after two quarters last Saturday against San Beda.
In a low-scoring game, the Cardinals opened up the third quarter with back-to-back baskets from Jonathan Banal and Mike Parala. This gave the Intramuros quintet their biggest lead of 15 at 30-15.
Mapua held on to their double-digit lead until Ronald Pascual hit three consecutive baskets, bringing down San Sebastian’s deficit down to just seven, 37-30, towards the end of the third.
The Cardinals managed to take care of their lead further in the fourth where they led 58-49 in the last 1:16 of the game but five straight points from San Sebastian in a span of 13 seconds brought back the Stags in the game. San Sebastian trailed by just four, 58-54, in the last 37 seconds.
Josan Nimes, who has been struggling in the past four games, muffed two charities in the ensuing play but San Sebastian rookie Raymond Binuya turned the ball over on a dribbling violation. The turnover sealed the win for Mapua after a four-game drought.
“I think we’re due to win again already. Sa past games, sa end game lang kami natatalo. We’ve learned from our mistakes and lapses kaya we were very positive we can close out this one to our favor,” said Mapua coach Chito Victolero.
Mapua missed four players due to various injuries: Andretti Stevens with a hamstring injury, Jumel Chien with a foot injury, Michael Abad with back spasms and Darrel Magsigay with sprain.
A revelation for the Cardinals was transferee Joseph Eriobu, who finished the game with 15 points alongside Nimes. Eriobu, a Perpetual High School product, spent one year in NU before moving over to Mapua.
“Laging in-e-enjoy lang ni Joseph yung laro. Walang pressure. Medyo limited minutes siya nung past games pero today, quality minutes sya,” said Victolero on Eriobu.
Calvin Abueva had 15 points and 14 boards in the loss, leading all scorers from San Sebastian. Ian Sangalang, a doubtful starter for San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson, suited up but only managed to chip in eight points and nine boards.
Mapua is set to wrap up their first round on Saturday against Arellano while San Sebastian will meet San Beda, their nemesis in last year’s finals, on Thursday for their last game of the first round.
Mapua (61) — Eriobu 15, Nimes 14, Parala 14, Ighalo 4, J. Banal 4, Cantos 3, G. Banal 2, Brana 2, Saitanan 2.
San Sebastian (54) — Abueva 15, Pascual 13, Juico 13, Sangalang 8, Maiquez 5, Miranda 0, Dela Cruz 0, Binuya 0, Antipuesto 0, Rebullos 0, Balucanag 0.
Quarterscores: 10-7, 26-15, 39-30, 61-54.
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