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MU Cardinals bag Gold at the 21st ASEAN University Games

Article by: Albert L. Dela Cruz Jr.

Photo by: One United Mapúa

The Mapúa University (MU) Men's Basketball Team proudly represented the Philippines as it secured the gold medal in the recently concluded 21st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) University Games in Indonesia, held from June 25 to July 6.  

The MU Men's Basketball Team hit the hardwood floors from June 30 to July 3 before it ensued a battle for Gold last July 5. On June 30, the red and gold squad commenced its campaign with a dominant win against Team Malaysia, managing to outscore the opponents in all four quarters to ultimately end the game with a 93-79 blowout win. The Cardinals then battled neck-and-neck for the first three quarters with the feisty Team Thailand. Eager to start a hot streak, the Cards exploded for 29 points while holding the opposing team to just 15 in the closing frame as the home team eventually pulled off a lopsided 97-79 win.    

The Intramuros-based squad continued to capitalize on its new-found stride as it overwhelmed Team Singapore in a 101-69 victory to keep its win-loss record unblemished. Down to the last game before the finale, the MU hoops team eventually faced off with the spirited Team Indonesia. Although the Filipino ballers lacked their opponents' home-court advantage, the team banked on its Mapúan grit that paved the way to a 3-0 win-loss record.   

Team Philippines fought hard to keep the lead in the intense match-up before the Indonesians forced their way to just a three-point deficit by halftime. To thwart the momentum of their rivals, the Cardinals then showed no signs of letting down, elevating their play in the second half of the regulation to end the match with another dominant win, 101-81, en route to the tournament's championship game.  

With a rematch against Team Malaysia booked in the finals, One United Mapúa (OUM) asked Cardinal top gunner Clint Escamis before the match-up about the team's takeaways from their ASEAN University Games experience "[..] number one yung team chemistry namin nag-improve, [...] never underestimate the opponent especially ibang countries yung kalaban namin," Escamis shared. The reigning NCAA MVP walked the talk as he led the red and gold jerseys to a 93-64 obliteration to claim the Gold unscathed.  

Also representing the Mapúan community, NCAA Red Robins standout and now-Cardinal Lawrence Mangubat celebrated his first gold-medal victory with the MU Senior’s Basketball Team. “Syempre masaya po kasi nakuha namin yung gold, and for me na member sa Cardinals na galing Juniors, [...] for me wala pa yon kumbaga hindi pa yun yung totoo” Mangubat shared.   

Mangubat also expressed his gratitude towards OUM for their support during the team's journey in Indonesia "Very thankful kasi solid yung suporta nila and super active sila sa athletes in Mapúa." 

As the NCAA plans to open Season 100 as early as September 7, the Cardinals set their sights once again on the elusive championship cup. With key players Warren Bonifacio and Paolo Hernandez’ departure, the team makes the most out of all the pre-season leagues to mold their new roster back into a championship-caliber team. 

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