NCAA: Mapua dethrones Letran to bolster playoff bid
Mapua ousted defending champion Letran from Final Four contention, 77-72, in the NCAA Season 92 men’s basketball tournament Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Cardinals turned to Allwell Oraeme down the stretch and the reigning MVP delivered seven of his game-high 21 points inside the last seven minutes that went with 26 rebounds.
“It’s a good feeling. This win will most likely secure us [a spot] in the playoffs,” said Oraeme.
Darell Menina also played a vital role in the endgame, firing eight of his 12 points, highlighted by a go-ahead 3-pointer, 70-67, with 2:14 remaining.
“Di pa ako nakatira sa second half so binigay ko na lang tira ko,” said the backup guard.
“Nag-step up lang talaga ako kasi si Biteng wala pa siya para may shooter kami.”
Rey Nambatac had 19 points and seven rebounds for the Knights (8-9), who will wrap up their season against Emilio Aguinaldo College on Sept. 22.
Letran fell behind by 15 in the third quarter but went down fighting.
The Knights rallied and stayed within reach despite losing Nambatac at the 8:13 mark of the fourth quarter due to an ankle injury.
Nambatac turned his left ankle after stepping on a referee’s heel while sprinting back on a fastbreak. He returned with 4:45 left but didn’t have the same explosiveness and aggressiveness.
Mapua can clinch a spot in the semifinals with a victory over winless College of St. Benilde on Thursday.
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