MANILA, Philippines -- Mapua shut down Cameroonian double-double machine Noube Happi as it walloped Emilio Aguinaldo, 80-55, to resuscitate some life to its dying Final Four hopes in the 88th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City on Saturday.
Rookie Mark Brana came through with 15 points while Kennth Ighalo, Mike Parala and birthday boy Gab Banal scattered 12, 10 and 10 points, respectively, while Josan Nimes did everything with a near triple-double performance of nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists to help the Cardinals move to sixth spot with a 5-7 (win-loss) slate.
It was, however, Mapua’s rock-solid interior defense centered on the 6-7 Happi that proved critical as the Cameroonian big man was held to just nine points on a nightmarish three-of-19 shooting clip, just eight boards and his season worst eight turnovers.
Going into this game, Happi averaged 18 points and 14 caroms.
“We had a defensive game plan on Happi and I’m happy it worked,” said Mapua coach Chito Victolero.
With the defensive screws tightened, the Cardinals dominated the Generals early on and led 18-9 at the end of the first quarter and 43-22 at the end of the first half.
And it was garbage time from there.
Sophomore Remy Morada, a former Energen Pilipinas standout, tried to carry the fight for EAC as he led the team with 16 points but Happi playing his worst of the season was just too much as the Generals fell to their eighth defeat against four wins.
The loss snapped the Generals’ league best three-game streak while dealing a big blow to their Final Four campaign.
First Game (Srs)
Mapua 80- Brana 16, Ighalo 12, Parala 10, G. Banal 10, Nimes 9, J. Banal 6, Eriobu 6, Saitanan 6, Cantos 2, Chien 2, Magsigay 2, Stevens 0, Abad 0
EAC 55- Morada 16, King 11, Happi 9, Paguia 5, Yaya 4, Munsayac 4, Monteclaro 3, Pillas 2, Jamon 1, Tayongtong 0, Chiong 0, Sanchez 0, Acerbon 0
Quarterscores: 18-9; 43-22; 59-32; 80-55