NCAA: Parala stars in Mapua’s 64-55 win over St. BenildeBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — Mike Parala scored all but four of the last 12 points as Mapua repulsed St. Benilde, 64-55, for its first win in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament Thursday night at the Arena in San Juan.
Parala, playing his last year, starred in the pivotal 8-2 run in the final two minutes while Josan Nimes, the former rookie-of-the-year, iced the game with four free throws to tow the undermanned Cardinals.
Nimes topscored for Mapua, now at 1-1, anew with 21 points and eight rebounds while Parala chipped in 12 markers.
“Josan’s the leader, he delivered. We went to him in the fourth quarter,” said head coach Chito Victolero, whose squad is still waiting on its four rookies who were deemed ineligible for this season.
“I’ve been waiting for a game like this from Parala, finally he came through,” added Victolero of his senior forward.
The Cardinals were off to a slow start and trailed the Blazers, 0-7, at the start of the game. But St. Benilde failed to keep the run, thus enabling the Cardinals to play a toe-to-toe match with the Blazers in the second half.
Carlo Lastimosa, the Blazers’ star guard, scored four straight points including a bucket off the glass to give his squad the lead, 51-49, with 4:10 to go.
But that proved to be St. Benilde’s last stand as Mapua, courtesy of Parala, went off and ignited the 8-2 run to deal St. Benilde its second loss in three games.
Lastimosa finished with 13 points, all but two in the second half, on a losing effort for the Blazers.