PASAY CITY – Mapua Institute of Technology woke up at the right time to thwart Jose Rizal University in an early clash of favorites at the 92nd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) opening day (June 25) at the Mall of Asia Arena. The Cardinals used a 9-0 run in the fourth period starring Allwell Oraeme and Andrew Estrella to forge ahead, 73-69, and keep enough energy to hold on until the final buzzer.
Paulo Pontejos then ended the Heavy Bombers’ scoring drought to close in, 71-73, and then had a golden chance as the Cardinals threw the ball away on a backing violation with 25 ticks to go. However, Bernabe Teodoro missed badly, forcing Ervin Grospe to foul CJ Isit who then made a free throw for the final tally.
Isit missed his second attempt with the rebound going to Jose Rizal. Sadly, Pontejos’ desperation heave went nowhere thus triggering the Cardinals’ celebration.
“I’m happy because this is the first time in a long time that Mapua has won on opening day,” said Coach Atoy Co. “Our shooting was bad maybe because of opening day jitters and maybe the ending could have been different.”
The Heavy Bombers raced to a 20-12 lead after the first period and hung on to take the first half, 38-36. Teodoro waxed hot early with support from Jordan de la Paz, Gio Lasquety and Mark Cruz.
Jose Rizal took further advantage of the erratic Cardinals by erecting a 55-48 cushion in the third. Mapua then began their rally by going on an 11-2 run to grab the upper hand and momentum entering the fourth, 59-58.
Oraeme had fantastic numbers of 24 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks. Isit followed with 17 points and five rebounds.
Pontejos paced the Heavy Bombers with 16 points and six rebounds. Teodoro was next with 13 but only made two points in the second half.
Coach Co rued their 22 of 36 shooting from the free throw line. “In practice, missed free throws mean 20 push-ups,” he said with a slight chuckle as players Isit and Oraeme could only smile after the tough victory.
How They Scored:
MAPUA TECH (74) – Oraeme 24, Isit 17, Estrella 10, Victoria 8, Menina 5, Eriobu 3, Magboo 3, Orquina 2, Serrano 2, Biteng 0, Raflores 0.
JOSE RIZAL (71) – Pontejos 16, Teodoro 13, Poutouchi 8, Grospe 7, de la Paz 5, Lasquety 4, Cruz 4, Abdulwahab 4, Mendoza 4, de la Virgen 3, Evardo 3, Dada 0.
Period Scores: 12-20, 36-38, 59-58, 74-71.