MANILA, Philippines — The Mapua University Cardinals barged into hostile territory and emerged with their first win of the NCAA Season 94 men’s basketball tournament.
The Cardinals overpowered Jose Rizal University (JRU), 72-60, at the JRU Gym in Mandaluyong on Thursday to open its campaign on a winning note.
Leading the way in the Cardinals’ road win was Laurenz Victoria, who fired 11 points on top of seven rebounds and four assists.
Rookie Warren Bonifacio, a homegrown talent out of the Mapua high school program, had a solid debut with 10 points and nine boards.
The Cardinals were playing on the Heavy Bombers’ home floor in the first “NCAA on Tour” game of the season.
But the home court advantage did little for JRU, which featured an overhauled roster led by veteran Jed Mendoza.
The Heavy Bombers trailed by as much as 11 points in the first half, before coming to within three points, 34-31, at the half.
The Cardinals quickly re-established control, however, with Victoria and Exe Biteng opening the third frame with back-to-back hits for a 38-31 advantage.
JRU managed to stay within striking distance, thanks to Mendoza, who stayed aggressive despite a poor performance in the first half. The guard assisted on a triple for MJ dela Virgen that made it a three-point game, 47-50, with 46 seconds to go in the third period.
But it was Mapua that ended the quarter on a strong note, after Victoria snuck his way to the hoop for a lay-up that gave them a 52-47 lead entering the final frame.
JRU last threatened with 8:33 left, off two straight buckets from RJ David that made it 55-51. Mapua, however, responded with an 8-2 run, capped by a triple from Eric Jabel that made it a 10-point game, 63-53, with 6:34 to go.
The Cardinals cruised from there, as late buckets from Jabel and Cedric Pelayo put the finishing touches on Mapua’s triumph.
Mapua shot 42.86% from the field and had a 54-44 rebounding edge, and managed to win comfortably despite making only one of 11 triples.
David led JRU with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting, but no other Bomber was as efficient. Mendoza made only four of 11 shots for 11 points, and dela Virgen was 2-of-10 from the field.
JRU, as a team, made only 33.77% of its shots despite playing on its home court.
MAPUA 72 – Victoria 11, Bonifacio 10, Jabel 9, Pelayo 8, Serrano 8, Biteng 8, Lugo 6, Gamboa 6, Bunag 4, Aguirre 2, Salenga 0, Garcia 0
JRU 60 – David 12, Mendoza 11, Bordon 9, Esguerra 6, Silvarez 6, Dela Virgen 5, Santos 4, Padua 4, Miranda 3, Estrella 0, Mallari 0, Aguilar 0
Quarter scores: 25-14, 34-31, 52-47, 72-60
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