July 22, 2018, 11:48 pm
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Cardinals outplay Bombers

RANGED against an equally-revamped Jose Rizal University side, Mapua U showed up more prepared and was aptly rewarded yesterday.

Leaning on a big fourth quarter showing, the Cardinals scored a 72-60 victory over the gritty Heavy Bombers for their first win in the 94th NCAA basketball tournament at the JRU Gym in Mandaluyong.

Laurenz Victoria fired 11 points, pulled down seven rebounds, and issued four assists while blue-chip rookie Warren Bonifacio promptly made an impact, barely missing a double-double with 10 markers and nine boards for Mapua.

Cardinals coach Atoy Co was pleased that his charges were able to hurdle JRU despite nearly losing an early 13-point spread.

“I’m happy we were able to do the things we did in practice,” said Co, who lost key players Andrew Estrella, Leo Gabo, and Almel Oquina this season.

“Alam namin na ang JRU ay a pressing team pero tumigil sila when we kept on scoring on our press break,” he added.

The Cardinals took a 34-31 cushion at the half and enjoyed a 52-47 lead going into the payoff period.

An Eric Jabel three-pointer gave Mapua what seemed like a commanding 63-53 lead at the 6:33 mark of the fourth.

The Bombers, reeling from the departure of gunner Bernabe Teodoro, playing-assistant coach Gio Lasquety, Ervin Grospe, and imports Abdulwahab Abdulrazak and Abdel Poutouochi this year, showed some signs of life and pulled within 58-63 on a Jed Mendoza triple, with still 5:45 remaining.

But the Cardinals answered with a 9-2 windup that sealed the win.

RJ David paced JRU with 12 points while Mendoza had 11.

Earlier, the Light Bombers pounced on the shooting woes of the Red Robins, last year’s runners-up, and hammered out an 80-70 victory for a share of the early lead in the juniors’ division.

Marwin Dionisio came off the bench to finish with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds while Cadell Buno, John Amores and Thomas Vasquez fired 14, 13 and 12 points, respectively, to lift the Light Bombers to their first win.

The win also sent the Kalentong-based squad to the top alongside the Perpetual Help Junior Altas, who stunned the San Beda Cubs 72-69 and the San Sebastian Staglets, who edged the Lyceum Junior Pirates 69-68 Sunday.

Clint Escamis, the lone remaining Mapua starter from last season, got into foul trouble early, committing four fouls in the first half including three in the first quarter. He finished with nine points, all in the first half.
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