MANILA, Philippines -- Mapua continued to thrive with its back against the wall as the Cardinals hammered out another convincing win, this time, a 75-51 rout of Perpetual Help Wednesday to remain in contention for a Final Four berth in the NCAA men's basketball competition at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Cardinals, who crushed Letran, 69-52, Friday, bucked a slow start and unleashed a series of big runs bridging the second and third periods en route to their eighth win in 13 games.
Sophomore guard Jonathan Banal starred in the second quarter spurt by scoring 10 of his 16 points, before swingman Ian Mazo took over in the next period by shooting nine of his 14 markers to put the Cardinals safely ahead, 58-41.
"I like our chances of making the Final Four with the way our team has been playing the past two games," Mapua coach Leo Isaac said. "I just told them to keep up the pressure at the backcourt and I'm glad they responded."
But Isaac expects rough sailing against Jose Rizal University in their final regular season game on Friday.
The Heavy Bombers are locked in a tie with San Sebastian at second with a 9-4 card. The Stags, though, are playing pacesetting San Beda as of posting time.
"We have to dig deep against JRU," added Isaac, whose team could end up with a tie with the Heavy Bombers with a win on Friday.
The Cardinals drew firepower from Kelvin Dela Pena, who finished with 12 points in his first game after getting drafted by Alaska in the PBA Draft last Sunday.
Dela Pena, the 2007 NCAA MVP, who also wound with seven rebound and seven assists, has been juggling his time with the Cardinals and Alaska practices this week, an attitude that has earned the adulation of Isaac.
"I hope he gets signed by Alaska," the coach added.
"Kelvin is proving his worth in our team," Isaac said. "His playing attitude has been impressive."
The Cardinals nailed 11 three-pointers with Banal, Dela Pena and Allan Mangahas combining for 10 treys.
Skipper Neil Pascual added 10 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Cardinals.
The Altas ended the season with a dismal 2-12 card.
Their woeful record was compounded by the action of point guard Franz Dysam, who was caught on television punching Erwin Cornejo on the crotch, while the Mapua player was providing a teammate a pick in the second quarter.
The move merited an unsportsmanlike foul and a one-game suspension that will be carried over next season.
Mapua 75 --- Banal 16, Mazo 14, Dela Pena 12, Pascual N. 10, Mangahas 9, Pascual J. 8, Sarangay 2, Cornejo 2, Soriano 2, Espinosa 0, Acosta 0.
Perpetual 51 --- Mejos 17, Salanga 10, Kong M. 8, Reyes 5, Dysam 4, Ynion 4, Balboa 1, Kong J. 1, Hainga 1, Vivero 0, Sicat 0, Galabin 0.
Quarters: 12-9, 41-25, 58-41, 75-51