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Cards blitz Heavy Bombers to secure fifth win, 74-49

Article by: Crismhil S. Anselmo
Graphics by: Andreah Faye G. Lapinid

Clinching their third straight victory in their fifth match during the last elimination round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 98 Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Mapúa Cardinals avenged their first-round overtime defeat as they buried the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers under a 25-point lead in their second encounter, 74-49, last November 2, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.
Living up to their reputation as the leading team on defense, the Mapúa ballers started off the game with a 5-0 run, banking on their impenetrable defenses and forcing the Heavy Bombers to resort to shots from beyond the rainbow country. Despite securing two field goals, the opposing team was denied any further ammunition to take the lead as the yellow jerseys’ consistent offense kept them at bay. Point Guard Enrico Joaquin Garcia’s three-point shot in the last five seconds gave the Cardinals a healthy five-point cushion as they ended the first quarter, 21-16.

Eager to maintain control of the game, the Muralla squad managed to block all JRU’s attempts to regain composure. Answering each basket with a couple of their own, the Cardinals continued to obliterate the Heavy Bombers. Despite Heavy Bomber Marwin Dionisio’s successful field goal at the 7:52 mark, the Cards went on to pour in bucket after bucket, forcing the blue jerseys to suffer a two-minute drought, finishing the first half with a seven-point advantage, 38-31.

In the third frame, a heated exchange of baskets took place as both teams amplified their offensive plays. However, fortified defenses limited success on field goals on either side in the first four minutes of the quarter. As the red and gold team picked up on their momentum from the first half, they retained the upper hand.

Finding the right tempo to keep a tight grip on their lead, the Cards lit the court on fire with back-to-back three-pointers from Garcia and Shooting Guard Marc Cyrus Cuenco. Tension rose in the court as blue jerseys grew desperate to close the gap but the Cards’ defensive tactic left them pointless in the last two minutes of the quarter. The yellow jerseys kept overpowering their opponents as they drilled a 13-point lead, 53-40.

Entering the last frame with a remarkable standing in favor of the Cards, hopes for a victory were quickly diminishing for the Heavy Bombers. The home team consistently fired the shots while the Mandaluyong-based troop suffered from another dry spell. The red and gold squad bombed the opposing team with an outstanding 25-point lead—their highest yet in the season—concluding the game at 74-49.

Garcia was hailed the Best Player of the Game after delivering 17 points, two rebounds, and two assists. Shooting Guard Adrian Clarence Nocum trailed with 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals, followed by Captain Ball Warren Bonifacio with 10 points, four rebounds, and two assists.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Medina led his team with 15 points, five rebounds, and one assist, followed by Dionisio with 12 points, seven rebounds, and two assists, and Ry Dela Rosa with eight points, five rebounds, and two assists.

After pulling a rousing victory, the Mapúa Cardinals improved to a 5-9 win-loss record while the JRU Heavy Bombers prolonged their second-round losing streak to settle at 5-5.

In a post-game interview, Garcia shared that their strategy going into this match was to go all-out on their defense. “…darating naman ‘yung offense namin […] maganda lang shot selection namin tapos nagtatama ‘yung shooting namin,” the Point Guard shared.

The Mapúa Cardinals will attempt to continue their winning streak as they go up against the Arellano University Chiefs tomorrow, November 9, at 12:00 NN, at the same venue. Upcoming games will be aired via telecast on GTV and streamed live on the social media platforms of NCAA Philippines and GMA Sports PH. The live audience can purchase tickets through or at the venue’s ticket booth.

The Scores:
MU 74 – Garcia 17, Nocum 12, Bonifacio 10, Mercado 7, Hernandez 7, Cuenco 5, Pido 5, Lacap 4, Agustin 3, Salenga 2, Soriano 2
JRU 49 – Medina 15, Dionisio 12, Dela Rosa 8, Miranda 4, Arenal 2, Amores 2, Sy 2, Celis 2, Gulab 1, Delos Santos 1, Tan 0, Abaoag 0, Villarin 0, De Jesus 0
Quarter Scores: 21-16, 38-31, 53-40, 74-49
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