MANILA, Philippines -- The Mapua Cardinals kept their Final 4 bid alive with a sensational win over San Sebastian, while the San Beda Red Lions moved on the verge of an elimination round sweep on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Red Lions improved to 17-0 in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament after a 95-73 triumph over College of Saint Benilde.
Calvin Oftana erupted for a career-best 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting, while adding 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals for a superb all-around game. James Canlas had 21 points, and Evan Nelle tallied 9 points and 9 assists for the defending champions.
The Blazers were ahead, 50-45, early in the third quarter when Justin Gutang committed an offensive foul that seemed to spark the Red Lions. Oftana led their breakaway, and San Beda went on to cruise to victory.
Gutang had 23 points and 5 rebounds in a losing effort, but was the only Blazers player in double-digits.
San Beda just needs to hurdle Lyceum in its final game Thursday to complete an elimination round sweep and advance outright to the finals. Its win also put the Blazers on the brink of elimination.
Fortunately for Saint Benilde, the Mapua Cardinals came through with a 90-73 victory over San Sebastian that kept both teams in the hunt for a semifinals berth.
A victory by San Sebastian would have ousted both Mapua and Benilde, and completed the final 4 cast.
Instead, the Cardinals stunned the Golden Stags behind a 22-point outing from Noah Lugo, while Laurenz Victoria provided 18 points and Cyril Gonzales scored 15.
Mapua is now at 8-8, while the Blazers are at 7-9. Both teams are still in the running, with San Sebastian (9-7) having just a one-game lead over the Cardinals for the fourth and final semis spot.
"Sabi ko nga, di na kami kailangan tumingin pa sa standings," said Mapua coach Randy Alcantara. "Manalo-matalo, umabot o hindi sa Final 4, basta ang importante manalo kami sa San Sebastian. It's all about pride eh."
"Noong first round, tambak kami," he added, referring to their 92-68 setback to the Stags in their second game of the season. "It's our chance na makabawi."
With the Golden Stags knocking on the door, 72-66, Lugo took over. He drilled a triple from the corner with 5:18 left, then added a lay-up in transition for a 77-66 count halfway through the frame. The Cardinals were unbothered from there, with Lugo, Gonzales and Christian Bunag scoring the key baskets to keep the Stags at bay.
RK Ilagan had 19 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists, while Allyn Bulanadi scored 18 points but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
SAN BEDA 95 - Oftana 29, Canlas 21, Tankoua 13, Soberano 10, Nelle 9, Alfaro 9, Doliguez 2, Cuntapay 2, Bahio 0, Abuda 0, Obenza 0, Carino 0, Noah 0, Etrata 0
CSB 73 - Gutang 23, Young 7, Carlos 7, Dixon 7, Belgica 6, Haruna 6, Flores 6, Sangco 5, Nayve 3, Mosqueda 3, Naboa 0, Lim 0
QUARTER SCORES: 27-20, 41-42, 72-58, 95-73
MAPUA 90 - Lugo 22, Victoria 18, Gonzales 15, Bunag 9, Gamboa 8, Garcia 6, Bonifacio 4, Salenga 2, Nieles 2, Serrano 2, Nocum 2, Aguirre 0, Dela Cruz 0
SAN SEBASTIAN 73 - Ilagan 19, Bulanadi 18, Calahat 10, Villapando 9, Calma 4, Sumoda 4, Altamirano 3, Desoyo 2, Loristo 2, Suico 2, Tero 0, Isidro 0
QUARTER SCORES: 23-15, 46-39, 68-60, 90-73
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