NCAA basketball

San Beda bounces back, escapes Mapua to force NCAA finals Game 3

JR Isaga

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San Beda bounces back, escapes Mapua to force NCAA finals Game 3

COOL CAT. San Beda guard Jacob Cortez handles the ball against the Mapua defense in the NCAA Season 99 men's basketball finals

GMA Sports PH

Jacob Cortez leads San Beda's NCAA finals bounce-back effort, bucking a third-quarter collapse to escape misfiring Mapua and force a winner-take-all Game 3

MANILA, Philippines – With their backs against the wall, the San Beda Red Lions showed a champion’s heart in Game 2 of the NCAA Season 99 finals, dropping the Mapua Cardinals, 71-65, to force a decider at the jam-packed Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, December 10.

Despite blowing a 15-point third quarter lead with a 6-23 third-quarter collapse, the Red Lions stayed composed in the clutch, earning back a 62-61 lead with 4:29 to play in the fourth after a booming Jacob Cortez three.

Cortez, in the zone, then added three more at the 3:10 mark in step-back fashion, 67-61, before Yukien Andrada followed up with his own deep shot with 2:15 remaining in regulation to mount a 70-63 gap.

JC Recto only managed one layup in response to get within 65-70, before Mapua rushed the endgame with multiple attempts coming from downtown in an effort to quickly shave the late deficit.

Peter Alfaro then set the final score with a split trip from the line as San Beda completed the bounce-back effort, forcing a winner-take-all showdown at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, December 17.

Cortez led all scorers in the all-important win with 21 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals, backstopped by 9 apiece from Andrada and Jomel Puno in front of 22,465 fans at the MOA Arena.

“One more week. In Game 3, the same intensity is what we want to bring,” said San Beda head coach Yuri Escueta. “It’s a do-or-die game. That’s all, we’ll just do the same we did today. I just told them to give it their all. We’ve been in this situation not just one time, but five or six.”

“Only thing we told ourselves is to stay together, not give up, and fight until the end, whatever the result.”

The Cardinals, who took Game 1 in a 68-63 escape, had hoped to complete a series sweep and bag their first NCAA men’s basketball championship in 32 years.

Four Mapua players breached double-digit scoring in the loss, led by 15 points, 9 boards, and 4 dimes from newly crowned MVP Clint Escamis, but only on a putrid 4-of-21 clip.

Recto scored 14 on a 6-of-13 clip as Paolo Hernandez labored his way to a 13-point finish on 3-of-17 shooting.

Overall, Mapua only shot 26% from the field and 15% from three as San Beda ultimately extended the best-of-three series.

The Scores

San Beda 71 – Cortez 21, Puno 9, Andrada 9, Jopia 8, Alfaro 7, Royo 6, Cuntapay 5, Payosing 4, Tagle 2, Gonzales 0, Visser 0.

Mapua 65 – Escamis 15, Recto 14, Hernandez 13, Soriano 10, Cuenco 5, Rosillo 5, Bonifacio 3, Asuncion 0, Dalisay 0, Bancale 0.

Quarters: 20-19, 42-30, 48-53, 71-65.

– Rappler.com

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