Isit powers Mapua past JRU
After an elimination-round campaign that was plagued by injuries and death in the family, things are finally looking up for Mapua guard CJ Isit.
The spitfire playmaker torched Jose Rizal U with 27 points in his finest performance of NCAA Season 91 as the Cardinals clinched the No. 3 seed heading into the Final Four with an 81-76 triumph over the Heavy Bombers Friday at SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The 5-foot-8 Isit, who missed six games due to a dislocated elbow, sore eyes and the death of his grandmother, regained his fine form, going 12-of-17 from the field while tallying a team-high five steals as the Cardinals booked a date with the No. 2 Letran Knights in the Final Four on Tuesday.
The Bombers will face the San Beda Red Lions in the other Final Four duel. Both San Beda and Letran are armed with a twice-to-beat advantage.
“It was really tough, probably my toughest, even though we had a winning season,” said Isit. “I’ve had my dislocation, sore eyes and a couple of weeks ago, my grandmother passed away. It’s been tough but also inspiring.”
It was a nip-and-tuck duel from start to finish but the Cardinals—who have won nine of their last 10 games—gained some separation after MVP contender Allwell Oraeme nailed a putback for a 76-72 lead, 1:08 left.
Isit knocked in a basket from the corner with 48 seconds left to pad the lead, 79-74, ensuring the Cardinals enter their first Final Four appearance in five years on a positive note.
Darell Menina also dished out a solid outing with 16 points, including three triples in the second half, while Oraeme grabbed 24 rebounds that went with 11 points.
Meanwhile, the Arellano Braves dumped La Salle-Green Hills, 75-74, to stay in the title hunt in the juniors division.
The Braves forged another knockout match against No. 2 seed Mapua on Tuesday. The winner will advance to the finals against San Beda, which swept the elimination round.
MAPUA 81—Isit 27, Menina 16, Oraeme 11, Biteng 8, Nieles 8, Serrano 8, Nimes 3, Aguirre 0, Braña 0.
JRU 76—Teodoro 16, Balagtas 12, Grospe 8, Poutouochi 7, Estrella 7, Lasquety 6, Dela Paz 6, Dela Virgen 5, Cruz 3, Pontejos 2, Sanchez 2, Abdulwahab 2.
Quarters: 19-16, 38-32, 56-54, 81-76
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