Victoria pumps life into Mapua’s struggling NCAA campaign
Mapua may be in the bottom half of the standings of the NCAA Season 94 men’s basketball standings, but the way Laurenz Victoria played Thursday showed it could’ve been otherwise.
Victoria was the Cardinals’ beating heart when they edged past Jose Rizal University. 81-79, in the battle of teams in the bottom half of the ladder.
He not only locked down the Heavy Bombers’ most potent scorer in Jed Mendoza but he also nailed the shot that snapped their five-game losing streak.
Mapua had 21.5 seconds to make a game-winning play with the score tied at 79 and Victoria positioned himself on the right elbow, where he unleashed a turnaround jumper over Mendoza for the game-winner with 0.7 seconds left.
“Coach told us that we will start to look for the shot with five seconds left and when I looked at the clock and it said six seconds,” said Victoria, who was battling cramps before his jumper, in Filipino.
Cardinals head coach Atoy Co expected the player who had the biggest heart and steely resolve to step up, and that turned out to be Victoria.
“We had 21 seconds and whoever has the strongest heart will take the shot,” said Co in Filipino.
Co said that Victoria managed to stay collected during the situation because of his defense on Mendoza.
JRU’s spitfire guard had 19 points in the first half alone but produced just three more in the fourth quarter while under Victoria’s wraps.
“I want them to play good defense first and when you play defense you will be relaxed,” said Co. “He [Victoria] was able to control Mendoza who had 19 in the first half but then he couldn’t score.”
“The coaches told us to not look for our points and instead focus on our defense,” said Victoria, who finished with 17 points. “I just focused on my defense and before I even realized it I was able to score when I was given the chance.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.