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Cards grab win from Golden Stags, 65-59

Article by: Lea Ysabel Q. Evangelista

Graphics by: Cassius Klai C. Francisco and Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo

Photo by: Keith Dela Cruz

Extending their winning streak to three games in the elimination round of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 97, the Mapúa Cardinals overpowered the San Sebastian College – Recoletos (SSC-R) Golden Stags, 65-59, at La Salle Green Hills last April 5.

Carrying the pressure to preserve their winning streak, the Cards scrambled on their feet during the game’s first few minutes. Seeing their chance to lead, the Golden Stags managed to strike a gap against their opponent with a steady offense while the Mapúa team fired tense shots within the first six minutes of the match. The Cards only started scoring towards the end of the first quarter, leaving the Stags with a five-point lead, 7-12.

After a rocky start, the Cards powered forward as they caught up and wiped off their deficit in the next quarter. Team Captain Warren Bonifacio filled the scoreboard as he contributed eight points and eight rebounds in the first half alone, showcasing back-to-back perimeter shots and breaking the Stags’ tight defense. The red and gold surpassed their opponents by six points, 29-23.

Photo by: Keith Dela Cruz

Just as fierce as their coast-to-coast drives, the Intramuros-based ballers were unstoppable stepping into the third quarter. The opponent team closely guarded the interior offense, trying to keep up with Mapúa’s drives, but Shooting Guard Carl Brian Lacap and Point Guard Jeric James Pido refused to be easy reads as they fired three straight successful treys which widened the gap further, 19 points from reach.

The Cards were also granted multiple extra possessions throughout the game as their opponent had a rigid defense, which shifted the Recto ballers’ attention to a more aggressive offense, reducing the lead to 9 points at the end of the quarter, 53-41.

Reviving themselves in the last quarter, the Golden Stags hustled to reduce the gap with key players leading an aggressive offense. The Cardinals were in troubled waters with a four-minute drought, but this did not hinder a win as they pushed through the last few minutes. Shooting Guard Paolo Hernandez finished off the quarter with a three-pointer and a neat free throw, 65-59.

Cards’ Captain Ball Bonifacio was hailed Player of the Game, exerting double-double efforts with 16 points, 14 rebounds, and two assists. Meanwhile, Lacap and Hernandez followed with 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists and 12 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, respectively.

On the other hand, Golden Stags key players JM Calma and Camilluz Altamirano both scored 10 points and 1 assist with Calma having nine rebounds and Altamirano with two. Rommel Calahat, also a top scorer for the team, earned eight points, five rebounds, and two assists.

Despite a notable absence from Forward Arvin Gamboa, the Cards remained untethered as they kept their record clean with their third win, 3-0, leaving them as one of the only three teams without a loss alongside San Beda University Red Lions and Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) Knights. On the other hand, the Golden Stags fell to 1-2.

Bonifacio shared in a post-game interview how the last few minutes of the third quarter were a crucial point as it caught them off guard when the Stags started to advance.

Medyo nagulahan kami. Buti nakabalik kami sa fourth quarter, mas naging agresibo kami, dinoblehan namin yung effort namin kaya natalo namin yung Baste,” he added.

The Mapúa Cardinals are set to duel against the CSJL Knights tomorrow, April 8, at 12:00 noon, in the same venue for their fourth game. Upcoming games will continue to air on GTV with live streaming on the social media platforms of NCAA Philippines and GMA Sports PH.

Photos by: Keith Dela Cruz

The Scores:

MU 65 – Bonifacio 16, Lacap 14, Hernandez 12, Nocum 8, Mercado 6, Pido 4, Garcia 2, Agustin 2, Milan 1, Sual 0

SSC-R 59 – Calma 10, Altamirano 10, Calahat 8, Villapando 8, Sumoda 6, Dela Cruz 6, Cosari 6, Are 2, Shanoda 2, Felebrico 1, Una 0, Desoyo 0, Loristo 0, Abarquez 0, Gabat 0

Quarter Scores: 7-12, 29-23, 53-41, 65-59

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