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Cards strike down Pirates’ ship, 62-59

Article by: Lea Ysabel Q. Evangelista and Alexandra Isabelle G. Delavin
Graphics by: Andreah Faye G. Lapinid

On a mission to revive their team ranking, the Mapúa Cardinals opened the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Season 98 Men’s Basketball Tournament with a bang as they took down the second top seed, the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Pirates, last October 16, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.
Starting the first quarter with a two-minute drought, the Cards struggled to gain baskets despite pouring efforts into their offense, which cost them another three-minute dry spell and a maxed-out penalty card while their Muralla neighbors took an 11-point lead. However, Point Guard Enrico Joaquin Garcia sought to turn the tables as he made a back-to-back shot on the perimeter, lessening the gap before the frame ended. They held out with a six-point deficit in the first quarter, 12-18.

Rookie Shooting Guard Marc Cyril Cuenco set up the pace in the second quarter with a layup, crossing the Pirates’ defenses with ease. This followed a 13-0 run by the red jerseys while their opponent shrank to no goals for more than six minutes on the floor. The Cards maintained their scoring, locking in 18 points in the quarter while containing the gray jerseys at 11. The first half ended with a single-point advantage for the red corner, 30-29.

As the third quarter rolled in, the opposing side quickly scored the first basket, but Shooting Guard Adrian Clarence Nocum’s inside pass to Captain Ball Warren Bonifacio brought the lead back to the red jerseys. However, as both squads continued to clash, a back-and-forth tone ensued inside the court, with both teams exchanging leads. With a rock-solid defense, the Cards continued with their assertive strategy to keep the Pirates away, but a six-point disadvantage ended the third quarter with 42-48.

Finding holes in the opponents’ defense, Garcia and Bonifacio took advantage to score their first basket in the last frame of the game. Cutting the deficit down, the Cards and the Pirates were tied at the three-minute mark. Refusing to be on the same field with the opponents, Shooting Guard Paolo Hernandez performed a quick two to secure the lead, followed by Point Guard Jeric James Pido’s two successful baskets from the charity line to seal their second win with a three-point cushion, 62-59.

Player of the Game and Team Captain Bonifacio delivered a double-double performance with 10 buckets, 14 boards, one assist, and a block, while Top Scorer Pido scored 11 points, two rebounds, and a steal. Coming in close were Nocum and Garcia who scored 10 points apiece. Meanwhile, LPU’s Mclaude Guadaña led with 15 points, while his teammates Omar Larupay and Shawn Umali contributed eight and seven points, respectively.

When asked what inspired the team to secure back-to-back wins, Pido mentioned emphasized their strong bond. “Buo pa rin kami as a team and kahit na-down kami, hindi kami nagkawatak-watak kaya ‘yun siguro ‘yung naging factor ng back-to-back wins,” he stated.

Starting the second elimination round strong, Hernandez added that their win was dedicated to Cards’ Forward Arvin Gamboa, who was still waiting for the go signal to go back in the game after sustaining a knee injury during their match against the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (CSB) Blazers last October 5.

After upsetting one of the leading opponents, the home team improved to a 2-8 win-loss record while the Pirates sank to 7-3.

Using their recent feat as an inspiration to stay in the winning column, the Mapúa Cardinals will duel against the league's current top contender, the CSB Blazers, tomorrow, at 12:00 PM, at the same arena.

The remaining games will still air on GTV, along with livestreaming on the social media platforms of GMA Sports PH and NCAA Philippines.

The Scores:
MU 62 - Pido 11, Nocum 10, Bonifacio 10, Garcia 10, Hernandez 7, Mercado 4, Soriano 4, Cuenco 2, Parinas 2, Agustin 2, Salenga 0, Igliane 0, Lacap 0
LPU 59 - Guadaña 15, Larupay 8, Umali 7, Bravo 6, Cunanan 6, Barba 4, Navarro 4, Montaño 4, Villegas 3, Valdez 2, Peñafiel 0, Omandac 0
Quarter Scores: 12-18, 30-29, 42-48, 62-59
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