Mapua, San Beda dispute last NCAA Finals berth


Posted at May 11 2022 06:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- Mapua and San Beda dispute the remaining Finals berth today in the Final Four decider of the NCAA Season 97 men's basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Coach Boyet Fernandez reminded his Red Lions to watch out for the Cardinals' outside snipings in the 3 p.m. knockout match.

"We all know that Mapua is the number one team in three points and they are really the number one team whose starters make the most points," said Fernandez after San Beda kept its season alive with a 73-67 overtime win last Sunday.

The winner will face back-to-back title-seeking Letran in the best-of-three series at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the San Juan arena.

The Cardinals struggled mightily from beyond the arc, going 3-of-25 that kept them from closing out the Final Four right away.

"Pa-salamat lang ako at na-miss ng Mapua 'yung mga three points nila," said Fernandez.

With its quest for its 15th consecutive Finals appearance on the line, San Beda will leave everything on the floor to stave off elimination.

"We haven't won anything, we just tied it. It gave us another chance to live and really thank my players for stepping up today," said Fernandez.

The Lions were seconds away from missing the Finals for the first time since 2005, but Ralph Penuela saved the day with a putback late in regulation to send the game into extra period.

San Beda then took control in overtime behind Penuela.

"Even though we're down, they never give up and that's really what the character we want. As I've always said to my players, we just have to tie it today and look forward to Wednesday," said Fernandez.

The Knights remain untouchable in the season with a 10-0 record. Letran overcame its biggest challenge of the season, as it nipped University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 77-75, to secure another championship stint. 

The Cardinals, who earlier beat the Lions that gave them the No. 2 ranking in the Final Four, hope to learn from the mistakes from their previous match to advance to the league's biggest stage.

Mapua last made it to the Finals in 1991 where it won its second consecutive championship.