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Cards refuse to fall prey to hungry Altas, 73-65

Article by: Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo
Graphics by: Andreah Faye G. Lapinid

Keen on redeeming themselves after falling short by two points in their first-round encounter, the Mapúa Cardinals overpowered the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA (UPHSD) Altas, 73-65, in their fourth National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 98 match in the second round of the Men’s Basketball Tournament Eliminations, and logged their second consecutive victory, last October 25, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.
Starting a tug-of-war early in the game, both teams refused to back down and poured in bucket after bucket. Held by a three-point disadvantage later in the quarter with only 2:26 remaining, Shooting Guard Marc Cuenco reclaimed the possession of the ball for Guard/Forward Toby Agustin to throw in a three-point basket and cut down the deficit to one. However, with Altas’ JP Boral shot inside the paint, the Cards followed the opponents’ lead by five points by the end of the first frame, 18-23.

Shooting Guard Paolo Hernandez ended the squad’s 78-second drought at the beginning of the succeeding quarter with a trey but suffered under another dry spell in the next minutes. The home team then recovered from their shaky offensive play with shots from Point Guard Jeric Pido, Shooting Guard Adrian Clarence Nocum, and Power Forward Jomer Mercado to trail behind by a point. With a successful layup and a free throw from Pido, they held on to a short-lived advantage as UPHSD’s Christian Pagaran countered it with a three-pointer. The Mapúa ballers failed to break away from the white jerseys’ tight grip on the lead in the first half, 34-37.

Heading to the third quarter, the Cards stepped up their gameplay to break through the opponents’ defenses and disrupted the Altas’ momentum. After struggling to score baskets in the past quarters, Team Captain and Forward Warren Bonifacio boosted his offensive side to put in 10 points in the current frame. As the Altas relied on top scorer Carlo Ferreras, the other end quickly responded to the battle’s new course. Regardless, Agustin’s and-one allowed the Cards to squeak past the Altas, putting up a six-point lead, 60-54.

Aiming to stay on top of the ballers from the South, the Intramuros-based team continued to fill their offensive load to shoot down the rivals in the last quarter. Pido’s three-point shot handed the red jerseys their biggest lead of the game by 10 points. As the opponents forged a more aggressive attack to catch up with the red and gold team, they maximized their penalty card, giving away another trip to the free-throw line to Nocum who scored two charity balls and stretched the lead. With another second-half rescue, the Cards made sure to pull away from the Altas to evade another escape win claimed by one of their tormentors in the first round of the eliminations and lock in their fourth victory this season with an eight-point advantage, 73-65.

After his career-high performance during their recent game against the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde Blazers, Bonifacio went on to show his dominance as he earned his third Best Player of the Game title this season after delivering 14 baskets, nine rebounds, three assists, and a block. Pido followed with 13 points, four rebounds, and an assist. Hernandez and Agustin also scored double digits with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The Best Player of the Game shared that despite struggling to find his rhythm in the first half, the coaches prompted him to shoot whenever he can. “...papasok nang papasok din ‘yun [point], tiwala lang sa sarili. So nung second half, talagang buo pa rin ang loob ko. Tinira ko ‘yung mga spots ko hanggang sa nakuha ko na ‘yung rhythm ko, nagtuloy-tuloy,” the 6-foot-4 baller remarked.

Despite missing a key player, Forward Arvin Gamboa, the Team Captain said that they worked on playing together as a team to drive themselves to another victory. Bonifacio added that they improved their bond and chemistry inside and outside the court to have a better performance in the second elimination round.

Meanwhile, UPHSD’s Carlo Ferreras led his team with 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Christian Pagaran added 10 points and three rebounds.

Following their revenge win, the Cards perked up their win-loss record to 4-9 while the Altas settled on a 5-7 standing.

In a post-game interview with Head Coach Randy Alcantara, he said that the coaching staff merely reminded the players of their roles in the team as they already knew which side to improve on during half-time to pace the game in the second half. “…nireremind ko lang ulit ‘yung mga pinagsasagot nila na kung gusto nila manalo eh ‘di ‘yung mga pinagsasagot niyo, gawin natin ngayon,” the Head Coach said. He also stated that they focused on their defense to prevent the Altas’ top scorers from pouring in baskets.

After staying in the winning column for the past two games, the Mapúa Cardinals will look to extend their hot streak to three games as they face the San Sebastian College – Recoletos Golden Stags, tomorrow, October 30, at 12:00 NN, at the same arena. The league has yet to announce any game postponement due to Typhoon Paeng. 

The games are streamed live on the social media pages of NCAA Philippines and GMA Sports Philippines with telecast on GTV. The live audience can purchase tickets through or at the venue’s ticket booth.

The Scores:
MU 73 – Bonifacio 14, Pido 13, Hernandez 11, Agustin 10, Nocum 9, Cuenco 8, Mercado 6, Soriano 2, Salenga 0, Garcia 0
UPHSD 65 – Ferreras 22, Pagaran 10, Abis 5, Egan 5, Boral 5, Roque 5, Barcuma 4, Flores 3, Razon 2, Nitura 2, Omega 2, Martel 0, Orgo 0
Quarter Scores: 18-23, 34-37, 60-54, 73-65
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