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Cards overthrow Pirates, 75-65

Article by: Alexandra Isabelle G. Delavin
Graphics by: Cassius Klai C. Francisco and Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo

The Mapúa Cardinals wiped out the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Pirates to claim a crucial victory, 75-65, in their last National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 97 elimination match last April 27 at La Salle Green Hills.

The Intramuros-based teams opened the quarter with a heated exchange of buckets, resulting in deadlocks for the first five minutes. However, Pirate John Barba’s triple started their team’s rally to gain the upper hand. To gain the rhythm for the Cards, Shooting Guard Adrian Clarence Nocum put in a two-pointer clutch in the last 56 seconds, but the team remained at a disadvantage by two points, 15-17, in the first quarter.

As the opponents fall into a three-minute dry spell, Small Forward Ferdie Asuncion shot a two-pointer under the basket while Nocum scored two charity balls and gained a three-point advantage for the Mapúa ballers. The Cards slowly got back into step as their offenses breached through the enemy’s defenses. In a push to take back the lead, the Pirates countered their attacks and left the Cardinals down by two at the end of the first half, 32-34.

With high stakes at risk, the red and gold dribblers opened the third quarter with a smooth 9-0 run in under two minutes. The yellow jerseys continued to hold the advantage as they veer into their defenses as the Pirates try to inch closer to the Cardinals. Rejecting the opponents’ attempts to steal back the lead, the Cards prove their high field goal average as they shoot from both sides of the perimeter. This resulted in the LPU ballers filling up their penalty card within the quarter, allowing the red and gold squad on their course as they ended with a 53-47 in the third quarter.

Back on the right path, the Cards took full control as Point Guard Enrico Joaquin Garcia and Forward Arvin Gamboa scored two treys and back-to-back two-point field goals, respectively. The Pirates attempted to fill in the gap, blocking the Cards at every chance they got, but to no avail, as the Cardinals continued sailing through the win for the team with a 75-65 finish.

The Cardinals ended the elimination round with a 7-2 win-loss stint, while the Pirates sank to a 2-7 record.

Gamboa was named Player of the Game thanks to his double-double outcome with 10 points and 11 boards. Mapúa’s top scorer of the game Hernandez fired in 13 points, two rebounds, and five assists. Guard/Forward Toby Bryan Agustin also knocked down 13 points, along with four rebounds, while Shooting Guard Brian Lacap chipped in 12 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

Meanwhile, LPU’s Barba scored the highest with 16 buckets and five rebounds, followed by Omar Larupay with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and one assist; and Yancy Remulla with eight points, four rebounds, and one assist.

In a post-game interview, Gamboa shared that Head Coach Randy Alcantara wanted them to maintain their momentum and raise their energy after their game against the previously unbeaten Red Lions. “Ang sabi naman ni Coach Randy na try ko lang i-enjoy, so mga ibang aspect sa laro gumagawa lagi ng boards, maging active sa depensa,” he added.

After San Beda Red Lions’ loss against the Letran Knights during their much-awaited battle on April 29, the Cardinals earned a twice-to-beat advantage and catapulted themselves into the Final Four, which last happened in 2016.

The play-in tournament for teams ranked third to sixth will be held on May 1 and 4. Then, the semi-finals for the top four teams will be on May 8 and May 11 (if needed). The final games for teams that place first and second will be on May 15, 22, and 29 (if needed).

The scheduled basketball games will be held at the Filoil Flying V Centre. In case there will be a tie between the first and second seed, the said game will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena. The matches can still be watched on GTV with live streaming on the social media platforms of NCAA Philippines and GMA Sports PH.

The Scores:
MU   75 – Hernandez 13, Agustin 13, Lacap 12, Gamboa 10, Garcia 9, Nocum 6, Bonifacio 5, Asuncion 3, Pido 2, Mercado 2, Salenga 0
LPU 65 – Barba 16, Larupay 15, Remulla 8, Cunanan 7, Navarro 6, Bravo 5, Guadana 4, Garro 3, Abadeza 1, Jabel 0, Valdez 0, Guinto 0
Quarter Scores: 15-17, 32-34, 53-47, 75-65

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