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Cards eliminate Red Lions in semis stretch, 70-67

Article by: Lea Ysabel Q. Evangelista
Graphics by: Cassius Klai C. Francisco and Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo

After falling short in their previous match in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 97 Basketball Tournament, the Mapúa Cardinals faced the San Beda University (SBU) Red Lions in a do-or-die match and escaped with a 70-67 win at the Filoil Flying V Centre last May 11.





The Cardinals then earned a ticket to the finals, marking their first appearance in 27 years since their last match against the San Sebastian College – Recoletos Golden Stags in 1995. Their momentous win also marked the end of the 14 consecutive final appearances of the Red Lions, the team that finished off as this season’s third seed.


The first quarter rolled in with the two teams hot on each other’s tracks as both were eager to head to the finals. Their defenses forced a drought on both ends of the court. The first frame ended with a clutch basket from Cards’ Forward Arvin Gamboa to balance their scores, 9-9.


The Intramuros-based team steadily found their rhythm in the second quarter as they took charge of the Red Lions with as much as 11 points before a three-minute dry spell. Itching for a chance, the Mendiola-based ballers risked multiple fouls to gain an advantage which the Cards brushed off. Despite a lack of baskets and an aggressive offense from their opponent, the Mapúa squad maintained their lead by three points, 27-24.


A tense breeze took over the second half with both teams shooting daggers left and right. As the gap thinned, the two teams filled up their penalty cards for the quarter and rallied on, sparing no chance of a loose ball. With 1:29 left, Shooting Guard Paolo Hernandez attempted to close a six-point gap led by the Red Lions as he shot a long two and aced a technical free throw.


Gamboa once again took the last basket with a jumper seconds before the time expired. The third period concluded with the Cards trailing behind the opponent team by a point, 48-49.


The Cards had a slow start in the fourth quarter but regained composure after Hernandez hit a trey, putting their team back in the lead. Despite the game coming to an end, the two teams did not back off from their goal, powering forward with raging offenses. The red and gold squad fired up the court in the last few seconds as Gamboa drove an attack under the basket.


With the crowd already on their feet, the last 33 seconds of the final quarter offered a lay-up for SBU’s Ralph Penuela, racking up another tight match between the teams battling over the last spot in the finals. Guard Toby Bryan Agustin finished off the game with a two-of-two free ball with six seconds left in the match, 70-67.

Mapúa Cardinal Gamboa, the son of Philippine Basketball Veteran Arnold Gamboa, was hailed the Player of the Game with 13 points, 10 boards, and two assists. Shooting Guard Carl Brian Lacap also scored 13 points while Hernandez added 11 baskets. Both players performed two rebounds and an assist.


Meanwhile, SBU’s Yukien Andrada scored 19 points and two rebounds as teammates James Kwekuteye and Peter Alfaro pitched in 11 points each, and three and two boards, respectively.


The Cardinals, who last secured the championship title in 1991, will attempt to scratch a win from the undefeated and reigning champions Colegio De San Juan De Letran (CSJL) Knights in the best-of-three finals. The first match of the Battle of Intramuros is set to happen tomorrow, May 15, at 3:00 PM, at the same venue. Succeeding games can be watched on GTV with live streaming on the social media platforms of NCAA Philippines and GMA Sports PH.



The Scores:
MU 70 – Gamboa 13, Lacap 13, Hernandez 11, Bonifacio 8, Nocum 7, Pido 6, Agustin 6, Mercado 6, Salenga 0, Garcia 0
SBU 67 – Andrada 19, Kwekuteye 11, Alfaro 11, Bahio 9, Penuela 5, Abuda 3, Cuntapay 2, Cortez 2, Jopia 2, Amsali 2, Ynot 1, Sanchez 0
Quarter Scores: 9-9, 27-24, 48-49, 70-67


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