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Cards’ first conquest keeps Generals at bay, 67-55

Article by: Maurine Claire F. Kim and Reine Amabel J. Jaruda
Graphics and photo by: Andreah Faye G. Lapinid and Alexandra Isabelle G. Delavin

Finally ending their string of losses, the Mapúa Cardinals overthrew the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals, 67-55, in their last game in the first round of the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 98 Men’s Basketball Tournament Eliminations, last October 8, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.
The Cardinals unleashed a strong front against the Generals immediately after the tip-off. Although the Generals got the first possession, the red jerseys promptly stopped their attack with a good contest and rebound right after. EAC scored the first point of the match with MU immediately responding with an and-one by Paolo Hernandez. The missed freebie from the shooting guard provided an opportunity for the red-and-gold to gain another chance with a two-pointer from the offensive rebound.

The first quarter was favorable for the Intramuros-based squad until the last second when a costly turnover followed by a three-point basket allowed the Generals to enter the next quarter with a one-point lead, 15-16.

The red and gold flock reclaimed the lead first thing in the second leg, but the battle continued to be a tight match with both teams exchanging heated baskets. It was the dagger from beyond the three-point arc from Hernandez that served as a turning point for the Cards to hold a comfortable lead.

The arena witnessed the return of Captain Ball Warren Bonifacio’s mid-range catch-and-release jumpers that have been missing from the team’s previous games. Waxing hot in the first half, the center shooter finished 12 out of his 16 overall baskets in just the first two quarters. The Cards performed a 15-6 late-game run to close the first half in their favor, 35-27.

Despite the Generals’ close catch-up within the three-minute mark in the third frame, the Cards maintained a tight grip on their momentum with Point Guard Joaqui Garcia and Shooting Guard Jasper Salenga staging a 10-4 run. Keeping their composure, the team started the second half with a nine-point advantage, 51-42.

Pushing their strong offense into the last quarter, the Mapúa ballers led the game with back-to-back treys from Garcia and Hernandez. The team’s defense allowed them to pinch the ball from the Paco-based troop, forcing turnovers. As they poured in bucket after bucket, the Cards claimed their first official win of the season with a 12-point advantage over the Generals, putting an end to their eight-game drought, 67-55.

King Cardinal Bonifacio charged with 16 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Hernandez then chipped in 12 points, seven rebounds, and three assists while Nocum marked 11 points, eight rebounds, and three assists.

EAC’s Allen Liwag led his team with 22 points, seven rebounds, and 1 assist, followed by JP Magullano with 11 points and eight rebounds and Ralph Robin adding 10 points, two rebounds, and two assists.

Although missing a prominent offensive and defensive force in the form of Power Forward Arvin Gamboa, the team effectively compensated with their 2nd and 3rd stringers. Cards’ Head Coach Randy Alcantara acknowledged bench players Marc Cuenco and Andrei Igliane for rising to the occasion and allowing the team to end the first round on a brighter note.

Every game, sinasabi ko lang na ready lang, anytime mabubunot kayo. Buti nagrespond sila ngayon especially ‘dun kay Cuenco and Igliane,” the Head Coach said.

Team Captain and Player of the Game, Warren Bonifacio, noted that he hopes their late turnaround will finally become the momentum that his team is looking for going into the second elimination round of the season.

“Ipinakita namin [...] yung gigil [namin]na manalo kase gusto namin makabalik sa winning column, gusto namin umangat yung standing namin, [at] gusto namin uwian ‘yung suportang binibigay ng Mapúa, ng alumni, ng Mapúa Global, at ‘yun, sa pamilya din namin,” he added.

The victory-hungry Cards recovered their win-column contribution after their match against the San Beda University Red Lions was forfeited due to issues regarding the eligibility of former Cardinal Gab Gamboa to participate in the league.

After improving to a 1-8 win-loss stint, the Mapúa Cardinals hope to start the second round of the eliminations strong by attempting to sink the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates on October 16, 2022, at 12:00 PM, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

Before the next scheduled game, Team Captain Bonifacio and Hotshot Adrian Clarence Nocum will be participating in the All-Star Basketball match between the Heroes and Saints with other NCAA players, Kapuso stars, and Philippine Basketball Legends on October 15, Saturday, at 2:30 PM, at the same arena.

All games are streamed live on the social media platforms of NCAA Philippines and GMA Sports PH with a telecast on GTV.

The Scores:
MU 67 – Bonifacio 16, Hernandez 12, Nocum 11, Garcia 10, Pido 6, Cuenco 5, Salenga 4, Soriano 2, Pariñas 1, Igliane 0, Mercado 0, Lacap 0
EAC 55 – Liwag 22, Maguliano 11, Robin 10, Tolentino 5, Bajon 3, Luciano 1, Gurtiza 1, Doria 1, Cosa 1, Balowa 0, Umpad 0
Quarter Scores: 15-16, 35-27, 51-42, 67-55
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