MANILA, Philippines – Paolo Hernandez produced a double-double effort in a reserve role as Mapua stalled San Beda’s march to the Final Four with a 68-54 victory Saturday, April 23, in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the La Salle Green Hills Gym.
Dealing the Red Lions their first loss while keeping the Cardinals’ hopes of advancing to the Final Four outright alive, Hernandez provided the needed spark off the bench with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
“Lagi akong ready, mapa-first stringer or second stringer man (I’m always ready, whether as a first or second stringer),” said Hernandez, who also had 2 assists and 2 steals in 29 minutes of action.
It was San Beda’s worst loss since dropping a 91-72 decision to Arellano on October 1, 2015.
As Mapua holds the tiebreaker over San Beda in case both teams end up tied at No. 2 at the end of the elimination round, Hernandez hopes that his troops will sustain the same energy against Lyceum on Wednesday.
“Same mentality. Hard work pa rin. Lahat ng teams dito, contender. Walang mahina, lahat malakas (We still need to work hard. All the teams here are contenders, there are no pushovers),” said Hernandez.
Posting their third consecutive win, the third-running Cardinals moved up to 6-2, trailing the Lions (6-1) by just half a game.
“Sarap ng feeling na talunin ang nasa top team,” said Mapua captain Warren Bonifacio, who contributed 13 points, 4 boards, and 3 blocks. “Sobrang saya kasi lahat ng pagod, lahat ng pinaghirapan sa ensayo, nagbunga.”
(It feels great to beat a top team. We’re so happy because all our hard work and effort in training paid off.)
Toby Agustin also played big for the Cardinals with a game-high 15 points.
James Kwekuteye led San Beda with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Ralph Penuela added 13 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals.
Mapua 68 – Agustin 15, Hernandez 14, Bonifacio 13, Pido 8, Nocum 8, Lacap 5, Gamboa 5, Salenga 0, Mercado 0.
San Beda 54 – Kwekuteye 14, Penuela 13, Amsali 6, Andrada 5, Gallego 4, Bahio 3, Sanchez 3, Alfaro 2, Ynot 2, Cuntapay 2, Abuda 0, Villejo 0.
Quarters: 17-14, 31-27, 50-40, 68-54.