NCAA basketball

Mapua awaits NCAA Final Four fate
Mapua awaits NCAA Final Four fate

BIG WIN. Mapua's Paolo Hernandez drives past Lyceum's John Barba.


Mapua wraps up its elimination run with a key win to stay in the running for the No. 2 spot, but the Cardinals still need to play the waiting game

MANILA, Philippines – Mapua ended its elimination round stint with a 75-65 win over also-ran Lyceum as it awaits its fate of securing the remaining outright Final Four berth in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Wednesday, April 27 at the La Salle Green Hills Gym.

The Cardinals, who last made it to the top four in 2016, finished with a 7-2 slate, but still need to wait for the winner of the Letran-San Beda showdown to find out if they will advance to the Final Four outright or will be relegated to the play-in. 

Only unbeaten Letran (8-0) has secured an outright stint to the semifinals.

A win by San Beda (7-1) on Friday will secure the Red Lions a Final Four slot, while relegating Mapua to the play-in stage. 

If this happens, Mapua will battle No. 4 St. Benilde (5-4) for the third Final Four berth.

Paolo Hernandez is determined to bring the Cardinals to a higher level after years of disappointments.

The last time Mapua made it past the eliminations was when league MVP Allwell Oraeme, CJ Isit, and Andoy Estrella were leading the charge. 

Of course, masaya kasi after ilang years, puwede kaming makapasok sa Final Four at sa finals,” said Hernandez, who tallied 13 points and 4 rebounds to lead Mapua past Lyceum.

(Of course, we’re happy because we have a chance to make it to the Final Four and finals after several years.)

Toby Agustin also scored 13 points, Brian Lacap chipped in 12 points, while Arvin Gamboa, the son of former pro Arnold Gamboa, produced a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals.

The Pirates, who will miss the Final Four for the first time since 2016, ended their season with a 2-7 record at ninth place.

John Barba paced Lyceum with 16 points while Omar Larupay contributed 15 points and 14 rebounds. 

Meanwhile, Dax Castellano, NCAA Management Committee chairman, said the league is looking forward on playing at the San Juan arena for the first time since 2019.

“We’re excited that we are welcoming the fans back at the venue this coming Friday,” said Castellano. 

As part of COVID-19 protocols, fans have to present vaccination card and a valid ID. The venue is available for full capacity.

Tickets are available at the venue and also online at

The Scores

Mapua 75 – Hernandez 13, Agustin 13, Lacap 12, Gamboa 10, Garcia 9, Nocum 6, Bonifacio 5, Asuncion 3, Pido 2, Mercado 2, Salenga 0.

Lyceum 65 – Barba 16, Larupay 15, Remulla 8, Cunanan 7, Navarro 6, Bravo 5, Guadaña 4, Garro 3, Abadeza 1, Jabel 0, Valdez 0, Guinto 0.

Quarters: 15-17, 32-34, 53-47, 75-65