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MANILA, Philippines –The Mapua Cardinals needed two thrilling overtime periods to complete a 105-101 stunner over the Letran Knights in the NCAA Season 95 men’s basketball tournament on Friday, September 13.
Veteran lead guard Noah Lugo powered the Cardinals with a career-high 31 points on an efficient 5-of-7 clip from downtown with 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Rookie Cyril Gonzales also chipped in a career-best 18-marker performance on a 7-of-9 shooting off the bench – including a clutch layup with 24 seconds left – while Laurenz Victoria added 13 points and 2 dimes.
With the win, the Cardinals boosted their chances for a playoff spot as they climbed to 4-6 for the season. Meanwhile, the Knights blew a chance to gain a share of 2nd place in the standings as they fell to a 7-4 slate.
“Tinrabaho talaga ng players, especially yung execution ng offense at defense namin,” said head coach Randy Alcantara.
“Hindi bumigay sa unang overtime, pangalawang overtime, hanggang nag-cramps, pero nandoon at lumaban. Congratulations na lang sa both teams dahil maganda talaga ang pinakita nila.”
(The players really worked hard, especially in the execution of our offense and defense. We didn’t give up in the 1st and 2nd overtime and fought through cramps. Congratulations to both teams for the great game they showed.)
Off a four-point deficit in the last 4 minutes of regulation, Letran mustered an 8-0 run to seize a 78-74 lead capped by a wide-open layup from lanky forward Ato Ular.
Although Mapua responded with 6 straight points to retake a two-point lead, Ular sank a putback layup off a Jerrick Balanza miss in the final 4.4 seconds of regulation to send the game to the 1st overtime.
In that period, both teams kept within distance of each other until Balanza found fellow veteran Larry Muyang down low for the go-ahead easy two for Letran, 89-87, with 11 ticks left.
However, last season’s NCAA juniors Finals MVP Paolo Hernandez displayed championship poise off the timeout as he drained a stepback jumper in the last 4.1 seconds to send the contest to another overtime.
It was in this 2nd extra frame that Mapua broke away with a four-point lead in the last 24 seconds, 104-100, after a clutch layup by steady rookie Gonzales.
Letran had one last shot to send the game to triple OT after a split free throw line trip by Balanza and a turnover on the Cardinals’ side, but Allen Mina’s pass was intercepted by Gonzales leading to a duty foul on graduating forward Victoria.
Victoria then split his charities which was all his team needed to escape with the hard-earned upset win.
On the other end, young guard Fran Yu paced the Knights with a career-high 23 points on a 7-of-9 shooting with 7 assists. Ular also saw his eye-popping 19-marker, 23-board (10 offensive) double-double effort go down the drain in the heartbreaking loss.
Lions still unbeaten
The San Beda Red Lions dynasty, meanwhile, showed again why they’re the undisputed best team in the league as they eked out a 73-66 win to sweep the Arellano Chiefs.
The win-hungry Chiefs looked to be on the verge of an upset themselves like Mapua as they inched the gap to one midway through the 4th, 59-60, thanks to a 10-0 run by Kent Salado and Jade Talampas.
However, they found no answer for former Finals MVP Donald Tankoua down low as he bullied his way to a personal 8-0 run to bring the lead back up to 9, 68-59, with 3:29 to spare.
Arellano managed to bring the sudden deficit back down to 4 in the waning seconds of regulation, but it was too little, too late as the three-time defending champions held on for their 11th straight win this season.
Tankoua led the way for San Beda with 20 points, 9 coming in the payoff period alone. Clint Doliguez and James Canlas backstopped the effort with 12 and 11 markers, respectively.
On the other end, Justin Arana erupted for a game-high 23-point, 15-board double-double, but it was not enough as Arellano remained at 9th place in the standings with a 2-8 card.
Finally, the JRU Heavy Bombers outlasted the bottom-dwelling EAC Generals with a 69-63 win in the curtain raiser.
Sophomore guard Agem Miranda led all scorers with 16 points off the bench while Marq Dionisio churned out a 13-marker, 16-rebound double-double to help JRU rise to 4-7.
On the other end, JP Maguiliano also had 16 points to lead EAC while Jethro Mendoza added 15 markers off the bench as the Generals fell to 1-10.
JRU 69 – Miranda 16, Dionisio 13, Dela Rosa 11, Delos Santos 9, Amores 7, Aguilar 7, Arenal 6, Vasquez 0, Abaoag 0, Macatangay 0.
EAC 63 – Maguliano 16, Mendoza 15, Cadua 7, Gurtiza 5, Corilla 4, Taywan 4, Luciano 3, Carlos 3, Estacio 2, De Guzman 2, Gonzales 2.
Quarters: 13-16, 35-33, 52-50, 69-63.
Mapua 105 – Lugo 31, Gonzales 18, Victoria 13, Serrano 12, Hernandez 9, Nieles 9, Bonifacio 8, Bunag 5, Salenga 0, Aguirre 0, Jabel 0, Garcia 0, Nocum 0.
Letran 101 – Yu 23, Ular 19, Balanza 17, Muyang 10, Batiller 10, Mina 7, Sangalang 5, Ambohot 4, Caralipio 4, Javillonar 2, Olivario 0, Balagasay 0, Reyson 0, Guarino 0 .
Quarters: 9-18, 34-37, 58-59, 80-80, (89-89), (105-101).
San Beda 73 – Tankoua 20, Doliguez 12, Canlas 11, Nelle 8, Oftana 8, Soberano 6, Bahio 3, Cuntapay 3, Cariño 2, Abuda 0, Etrata 0, Alfaro 0, Noah 0.
Arellano 66 – Arana 23, Sablan 11, Talampas 10, Salado 10, Bayla 5, Oliva 4, Alcoriza 3, Concepcion 0, Gayosa 0, Espiritu 0, De Guzman 0, Sunga 0.
Quarters: 23-15, 40-31, 57-49, 73-66.