NCAA: Mapua fends off JRU to extend winning streak

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2019 06:09 PM | Updated as of Sep 26 2019 06:40 PM

The Mapua Cardinals extended their winning streak to four games. Josh Albelda, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED, CORRECTED) Mapua University weathered a furious rally from Jose Rizal University to hack out a 72-67 win, and continue their winning ways in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

The Cardinals were playing without veteran point guard Noah Lugo who was dealing with a fever, but they still had more than enough firepower to extend their winning streak to four games.

Mapua has now won seven of its last eight games after opening the season with five straight losses. Their record stands at 7-6, good for solo fifth place in the league standings. 

JRU dropped to 4-9.

"Slow start kami," said Mapua coach Randy Alcantara. "Maganda rin ang dinepensa sa amin ng JRU, plus yung offense nila, maraming ball movement. So medyo na-stuck kami doon."

"Nakakatuwa, masaya dahil one day preparation lang, hindi namin alam kung paano ipapahinga ang mga players, pero still, nag-respond pa rin sila," he added.

Coming off a 93-67 rout of Arellano University last Tuesday, the Cardinals were outplayed by the Bombers for most of the first half. JRU took a slim 31-30 lead at the break, with Marq Dionisio and Ronnie Aguilar taking turns in carrying the scoring load.

But Mapua got going in the third frame, outscoring JRU, 18-8, to seize control. They poured it on in the fourth period, eventually leading by as much as 18 points, 66-48, with 4:12 left to play. 

The Heavy Bombers refused to fade away, as three-pointers from Agem Miranda and Ry dela Rosa highlighted a 17-2 run that made it a 5-point game, 68-63, with still 1:25 left. Mapua struggled with JRU's trapping defense and a turnover by JP Nieles led to an and-1 by Miranda to put an exclamation point on the Bombers' rally.

Laurenz Victoria came to the rescue for Mapua, as he knifed into the lane and drew a foul, before coolly making two free throws for a 70-63 lead with 54 seconds left. The Cardinals got a stop in their next possession as dela Rosa threw up an air ball from beyond the arc, and Mapua was able to cruise from there.

"Buti na lang bago sila nakahabol, malaki na 'yung lamang namin," said Alcantara. 

Victoria finished with 13 points, while Justin Serrano added 12 points. Nieles, playing heavy minutes in lieu of Lugo, had 11 points.

Dionisio finished with 15 points, while Miranda had 13 markers for the Heavy Bombers who lost back-to-back games. 

The scores: 

MAPUA 72 -- Victoria 13, Serrano 12, Buñag 11, Nieles 11, Gonzales 10, Bonifacio 8, Aguirre 3, Nocum 2, Salenga 2, Gamboa 0, Garcia 0, Jabel 0.

JRU 67 -- Dionisio 15, Miranda 13, Amores 12, Aguilar 8, Dela Rosa 8, Delos Santos 5, Abaoag 2, Arenal 2, Jungco w, Macatangay 0, Vasquez 0.

Quarter scores: 12-15, 30-31, 48-39, 72-67

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.