Perpetual nips Mapua
Unfazed by the large home crowd, Perpetual Help overcame Mapua’s last-ditch surge to escape with a 63-60 victory last Thursday night for its first win of the NCAA Season 93 basketball tournament at the newly refurbished Mapua Gym in Intramuros, Manila.
AJ Coronel finished with only 10 points but he buried the biggest basket of the game—a triple with 1:22 remaining—to extend the lead to four for the Altas, who watched Andoy Estrella and Almel Orquina miss desperation triples in a frenetic endgame sequence.
GJ Ilagan finished with 13 points, while Prince Eze added 11 points and grabbed 21 rebounds as the Altas chalked up their first victory in three outings. The Altas’ record should have been at 2-1, but their opening win against St. Benilde was nullified because they wore the wrong uniform color.
“This is a good win for us,” said Altas coach Jimwell Gican.
“We always tell the players to keep working hard and trust that we will get rewarded and this is what happened today. It’s a good sign because we won on Mapua’s home floor.”
It marked the second straight week that the visiting team conquered the home squad in the NCAA on Tour. Last week, San Sebastian stunned Arellano, 76-67, at the Chiefs’ home for its first victory.
The Cardinals struggled to contain Eze’s strong inside presence as the Nigerian nailed a basket inside the paint for a 44-34 lead with 3:19 remaining in the third period.
But the Cardinals started making headway from there as Laurenz Victoria and Orquina combined to give the Cardinals a three-point edge with 4:05 left.
“We expected them to come back because this is their home court and fatigue affected our players,” said Gican.
Despite falling to 1-2, Mapua coach Atoy Co saw plenty of positives from his squad.
“At least the boys really fought their heart out,” said the PBA legend turned coach.
“The problem is there are some players who always want to take the credit. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to look at the situation, whether you can take it, you can make it or not.”
“I just hope they’re going to be more matured as this season keeps going,” he added.
Leo Gabo paced the Cardinals with 12 points while Estrella, the hero of last week’s 78-75 win over Letran, finished with 11 points, four assists and four boards.