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Mapúa Cardinals join the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers in PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup 2022

Article by: Therese Anne B. Cruz and Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo
Photos by: Aliza Belle C. Dayao, Lea Ysabel Q. Evangelista, and Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo

In preparation for the upcoming National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 98, eight selected Mapúa Cardinals sailed with the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers in this year’s Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League (PBA D-League) Aspirants' Cup, finishing the league as the first runner-up after their defeat in a winner-takes-all battle against the EcoOil-La Salle Green Archers, 78-91, last August 31, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Cards Toby Bryan Agustin, Warren Bonifacio, Arvin Gamboa, Enrico Joaquin Garcia, Paolo Jose Hernandez, Brian Lacap, Adrian Clarence Nocum, and Jeric James Pido – together with prominent basketball players Jollo Go and former Japan B. League imports Juan Gomez de Liaño and Kemark Carino – made up the blue and white team that joined the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup from July 7 to August 31.

Starting the elimination round strong, the Skippers swiftly took command of the Apex Fuel - San Sebastian Golden Stags (86-74), EcoOil – DLSU Green Archers (84-64), Adalem Construction-St. Clare (76-71), and AMA Online (87-49), but fell short in grabbing the win from the Wangs@26 – Letran Knights (64-70), Builders Warehouse-University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers (88-80), and CEU Scorpions (84-77). They left the elimination round with a 4-3 win-loss record.

Moving on to the quarterfinals, the Skippers once again faced the Scorpions, but with a different outcome, they blasted the latter with a nine-point advantage, 75-66, allowing them to proceed to the semifinals.

In the first game of the semis, the Marinero team took over the Golden Stags, 74-66. However, the Recoletos-based team extended the best-of-three series by winning the second match, 82-74. Both teams were eager to secure a spot in the finals, so they heightened their defenses and limited the opponents’ advantage. With a tight five-point lead, the Skippers escaped the Golden Stags, 69-64, claiming their spot in the finals with the Green Archers.

As the Marinero ballers went head-to-head with the Taft-based team in the best-of-three finals, the Skippers shot the Archers with a five-point advantage, 72-67, with Nocum leading the first game achieving a career-high 22 points in a game. In the second battle, the Archers nocked precisely as they shot down the blue and white jerseys, 70-63, leading to a third and final do-or-die match.

As the Green Archers set the tone of the final game by putting the Skippers at a disadvantage since the first quarter, the Skippers paced themselves but struggled to find their rhythm. Even with attempts in balancing the defensive and offensive play, the Skippers fell to the Green Archers, 78-91, settling for the first runner-up title.

In an interview with Mapúa Cardinals Head Coach Randy Alcantara with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he mentioned that joining the league was a big and learning experience for the players as they faced the Green Archers in the finals. “With the support from Marinero, we will have experience and [game] plans to bring for the NCAA,” Coach Alcantara added.

Aside from this year’s PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup, the Mapúa Cardinals also participated in the PinoyLiga Cup: Collegiate Division and the Filoil EcoOil Pre-Season Cup. The home team is set to start its bid to win the championship on September 10, Saturday, as they battle against the San Beda University Red Lions in their first NCAA Season 98 match.
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