MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Mapua Institute of Technology claimed the last slot in NCAA Season 91’s Final Four by ousting 2014 runner-up Arellano University, 93-75, on Tuesday, October 13 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
This is the first time Mapua tasted a regular Final Four appearance since 2008. In 2010, the Cardinals had to face, and eventually lost to, JRU in the first round of a stepladder series as San Beda won its 16 elimination matches to qualify for the Finals outright and claim a thrice-to-beat advantage in the championship.
After his stellar performance against Emilio Aguinaldo College last week, Josan Nimes shined brightest once again as he tallied 21 points, one rebound, 4 assists and two steals.
The 6-foot-3 pro-bound skipper also registered 13 points early as Mapua ended the first period with a 49-33 leverage. Nigerian import Allwell Oraeme stepped up for Mapua as well with a double-double of 13 markers and 28 boards to come along with 6 assists and 3 blocks.
Aside from Nimes and Oraeme, 4 other members of the red-and-gold troop were in double figures. CJ Isit and Darrell Menina amassed 14 points apiece, while Mark Brana and Justin Serrano contributed 10 points each.
The pesky troika of Isit, Menina, and Brana were responsible for stetching the lead to 21 points in the early proceedings of the third quarter before Jiovani Jalalon tried to spark a fourth quarter rally that nearly cut the deficit to single digits.
“It’s a great feeling to be back [in the Final Four]. It’s one way to give back to the Mapua community,” Nimes said in the post-game interview.
On the other hand, Arellano was led by Jalalon with his 37 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Jalalon also converted 4 of his 5 shots from beyond the arc in the second half in an attempt to tow Arellano to the semifinals for the second straight year.
With the impressive victory over Arellano, Mapua earned the right to dance with Jose Rizal University on Friday, October 16, for the third seed in the crossover semifinal phase.
The losing squad of the aforementioned match-up will square off with 5-time champion San Beda College, who defeated Colegio de San Juan de Letran in the day’s second game.
Mapua (93) – Nimes 21, Isit 14, Menina 14, Oraeme 13, Serrano 10, Brana 10, Aguirre 6, Nieles 5, Que 0
Arellano (75) – Jalalon 37, Salado 9, Cadavis 7, Nicholls 6, Meca 4, Bangga 4, Tano 4, Holts 2, Enrquez 2, Ongolo 0, Gumaru 0, Ortega 0, Zamora
Quarter scores: 16-15, 49-33, 69-51, 93-75.
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