JRU to face Mapua for NCAA Final Four’s number 3 spot
MANILA, Philippines – Although the cast for NCAA Season 91’s Final Four is complete, Jose Rizal University and Mapua Institute of Technology are battling for positioning in the crossover semi-final phase.
As part of the stepladder playoffs to break the 12-6 logjam, both schools are slated to lock horns for the no. 3 spot on Friday, October at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Mapua ousted Arellano University in the heated semi-final race with a 93-75 shutout on Tuesday, October 13 to claim the last Final Four slot.
Pro-bound skipper Josan Nimes hauled 21 points, including 13 markers in the first half that saw the Intramuros-based brigade finish with a 12-2 blitz for a commanding 49-33 advantage at halftime.
“It’s a great feeling to be back [in the Final Four]. It’s one way to give back to the Mapua community,” Nimes stated in the post-game interview.
This is the first time Mapua has made 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 College won its 16 elimination matches to qualify for the Finals outright and claim a thrice-to-beat advantage in the championship.
Allwell Oraeme stepped up for Mapua as well with a double-double feat of 13 points and 28 rebounds to come along with 6 assists and 3 blocks.
Since Perpetual Help’s Earl Scottie Thompson and Arellano’s Jiovani Jalalon are ineligible, the 6-foot-9 Nigerian reinforcement is likely on his way to bagging the most valuable player (MVP) plum as he averaged 16.33 points and 20.28 rebounds in the regular season.
Under league rules, only players whose team made it to the semi-final round are eligible to win the most prestigious individual award.
“We won’t be in this situation without him. He should be the MVP hands down. I’m lucky enough to play beside him. He takes the pressure off us. I’m just very thankful that he is in my team,” Nimes said of Oraeme.
On the other hand, JRU clinched a place in the Final Four by routing San Sebastian College-Recoletos, 91-69, on October 9.
Paolo Pontejos took care of business for the Heavy Bombers as the third-year gunslinger scored 23 points, while former juniors NCAA MVP awardee Darius Estrella also made his presence felt against San Sebastian by registering 11 baskets.
Under the tutelage of Vergel Meneses, JRU makes its second-straight year and fourth trip to the semi-finals.
It will be the third time that two aforementioned teams will square off against each other this year.
The winner of the JRU-Mapua duel will face the no. 2-rated Colegio de San Juan de Letran, while the losing squadron will dance with no. 1 seed occupant San Beda.
Both San Beda and Letran have a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four, which kicks off on October 20. – Rappler.com