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Mapúa Cardinals secure 3rd Place in PinoyLiga Cup 2022

Article by: Lea Ysabel Q. Evangelista and Alexandra Isabelle G. Delavin
Graphics by: Albert Dylan David

Last August 26, the Mapúa Cardinals proved their powerful dynamic to be no fluke after placing third in the recently concluded PinoyLiga Cup 2022: Collegiate Division following their battle against fellow National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) member school San Beda University (SBU) Red Lions, 105-72, in the semi-finals at the SGS Stadium.

With former Red Robin and returning Mapúan Clint Escamis leading the charge, alongside Cardinals Jasper Salenga, Jopet Soriano, Jose Milan, and Jomer Mercado, the team made it their mission to strengthen and improve their chemistry and teamwork. The players were joined by Kim Sabsalon, JC Recto, Dan Pariñas, Ivan Cudiamat, Kobe Dalisay, Andrei Igliane, Jerry Rivera, Ching Jugo, Cyrus Cuenco, Kobe Caballero, and Alfonso Evangelista.

The PinoyLiga Cup 2022, which started last July 27 and ended on August 26, featured six other schools, namely Enderun Colleges Titans, the University of East (UE) Red Warriors, the National University Bulldogs, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, the SBU Red Lions, and the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas.

While the Mapúa ballers sought to start the season strong, their first match against the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 84 Champions UP Fighting Maroons gave their first loss in the league at the Gatorade Hoops Center.

Instead of letting their loss destroy the team’s momentum, they focused on sailing smoothly towards the next three games against the NU Bulldogs, SBU Red Lions, and UPHSD Altas. With their third straight win, the red and gold squad booked their ticket to the semi-finals before losing against the UE Red Warriors.

Charging into the next round, the Cards battled against the Enderun Titans but were left at a disadvantage with a 10-point deficit as they went into the Playoffs. This gave the Cardinals a chance at redemption with a fight for the third-place spot in the league. In true Mapúan fashion, the Intramuros-based ballers ended their last match strong after conquering the SBU Red Lions with a 33-point gap. Escamis achieved a double-double in the game with 20 points, 11 assists, and five steals.

Just months after his return to the nest, Escamis earned the Collegiate Division’s Season Most Valuable Player (MVP) with an average of 16.38 points, 6.75 assists, 5.88 rebounds, and 2.25 steals in the tournament. Together with Salenga, they made up two of the Mythical Five in the collegiate cup alongside Roby Castro and AJ Fransman from the Enderun Titans and Donn Lim from the NU Bulldogs.

The young Cardinal’s performance inside the court showed the bond they have created with much of it coming from a feeling of being home and reuniting with his old teammates, coaches, and the community. For Escamis, his return to the red and gold after four years was a much-needed path for him to take. “I feel like it’s the best opportunity for me to improve as a player and [also] my character,” the MVP said.

Hoping for another great performance ahead, Escamis shared that [the] league gave us a moral and confidence boost in preparation for this coming NCAA season.” The young Cardinal expressed his support towards the team and their hopes of bringing back the championship to Mapúa. However, due to rules under the NCAA, the former Red Robin will have to complete his residency before joining the league. Until then, he will be sitting out the upcoming Season 98.

Aside from the PinoyLiga Cup, the Cardinals joined two other leagues during the off-season, namely the FilOil EcoOil Pre-season Cup and the Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League (PBA D-League) Aspirants’ Cup.
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