NCAA: Mapua stays in Final 4 race after slim win over Perpetual Help

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2019 03:49 PM

NCAA: Mapua stays in Final 4 race after slim win over Perpetual Help 1
Noah Lugo helped the Mapua Cardinals battle past the Perpetual Help Altas. ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- Mapua University is still in the running for a spot in the NCAA Season 95 Final 4 after a close 85-81 triumph over University of Perpetual Help, Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

The Cardinals were unable to sustain a hot start that saw them lead by as much as 15 points, but veteran point guard Noah Lugo was steady in the clutch to guide Mapua to victory.

With the result, Mapua improved to 9-8 in the league standings, keeping them in the thick of the fight for the last spot in the semifinals along with San Sebastian College and De La Salle-College of St. Benilde.

Warren Bonifacio led the way for Mapua with 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting along with 7 rebounds, while Laurenz Victoria had 14 points. Lugo finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in 31 minutes of action.

"Kailangan namin ang panalong 'to," said Mapua coach Randy Alcantara. "Nagpapasalamat ako na nanalo kami at may chance pa kami."

Arvin Gamboa was on fire to start the game, scoring 11 points in the opening frame to steer the Cardinals to a double-digit spread. But Kim Aurin found his mark in the second period, and the Altas trailed by just three points, 46-43, at the half.

Perpetual seized a 60-57 lead off a Jielo Razon three-pointer with 3:28 to go in the third quarter, and it was a back-and-forth game from then on. Ben Adamos took charge for the Altas in the payoff period, scoring all six points in a 6-2 exchange to give his team a 78-75 lead with 2:37 to go.

It was Lugo who came to Mapua's rescue, as he knocked down a three-pointer to knot the count, then assisted on a Justin Serrano bucket to push the Cardinals ahead for good, 80-78, with 1:32 to go. Free throws by Victoria helped Mapua pad their lead, as the Altas fired bricks from the perimeter in the final minute of the game.

"Yung talunin ang Perpetual, napakahirap gawin 'yun," said Alcantara. "Pero sa practice pa lang, nakita ko na sa mga mata nila. Gustong makabawi ng mga players ko."

Adamos finished with 25 points, while Aurin had a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Altas. Razon also scored 18 points, but their efforts were not enough to keep Perpetual Help from suffering its 12th loss against 5 wins this season.

The scores:

MAPUA 85 -- Bonifacio 15, Victoria 14, Lugo 12, Gonzales 11, Gamboa 11, Aguirre 9, Bunag 6, Garcia 3, Salenga 2, Serrano 2, Nieles 0.

PERPETUAL 81 -- Adamos 25, Aurin 19, Razon 18, Charcos 9, Sese 3, Labarda 2, Sevilla 2, Cuevas 0, Guissani 0, Tamayo 0.

Quarter scores: 25-18, 46-43, 65-64, 85-81.

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