Mapua shuts door on Arellano, secures NCAA Final Four berth
Mapua secured the last Final Four seat and sent Arellano University packing with a 93-75 win in the NCAA Season 91 men’s basketball tournament Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Graduating guard Josan Nimes scored 21 points while leading MVP candidate Allwell Oraeme had 13 points and 28 rebounds for the Cardinals, who will be making their first semifinals appearance since 2010.
“I’m just thankful to the Mapua community for coming out here. Words can’t describe how excited we are for the Final Four,” said Nimes.
“I never thought that this could be my last game. I’ve been telling my coaches and teammates that this won’t be my last game,” said the Mapua skipper, who was drafted by Rain or Shine in the PBA.
Mapua will play another playoff on Friday against Jose Rizal University with the winner getting the third spot.
The Cardinals, who overcame a 37-point outburst by Arellano’s Jio Jalalon, pulled ahead in the second quarter where they outscored the Chiefs, 33-18, before sustaining their fiery form in the fourth period.
Jalalon tried to carry Arellano back but the Chiefs couldn’t even break the 10-point barrier with Nimes, Oraeme and guards Darell Menina and CJ isit keeping the Cardinals’ head above water amid the fightback.
Mapua led by as much as 25 in the third period before Jalalon’s athletic drive pulled Arellano to within 10, 69-59, with still 8:56 left.
A three-point play by Oraeme put the game away, 82-67, with 2:31 remaining.
“It’s a dream come true for us by making the Final Four,” said the 6-foot-9 Nigerian, who will most likely end up lifting the MVP trophy in just his first year in the league.
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