THE Mapua Cardinals need to play a different level of basketball when their Final Four showdown with the Arellano University Chiefs starts today in the 92nd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Coach Atoy Co said this as he admitted that inconsistencies in their game have been bugging the team in their last three matches even as they meet the Chiefs at 4 p.m. today.
Earlier, the University of Perpetual Help Altas will have Nigerian Bright Akhuetie back in their the 2 p.m. match with the San Beda College Red Lions following one-game suspension he served out in their game against Mapua last Friday.
In the junior division Final Four, the no. 1 seed San Beda Red Cubs take on the 4th ranked Arellano Braves at 10 a.m. while the second seeded Mapua-Malayan Red Robins battle the La Salle Greenhills Greenies at 11:45 a.m.
“I’m really concerned, that’s why we’re correcting our mistakes during practices,” said Co, following the Cardinals’ 67-63 win over the University of Perpetual Help Altas last week during their last elimination round match.
Mapua’s Joseph Eriobu converted two free throws with 3.4 ticks left, allowing the Cardinals to take the no. 3 seeding with their 12-6 win-loss record, and their second Final Four appearance in two years with the same slate.
The win came after they lost to the Chiefs, 82-95, on Sept. 20 and stopped the College of St. Benilde Blazers, 89-59.
The Cardinals are banking heavily on big man Allwell Oraeme, who norms 15.8 points, 19.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.3 blocks. He gets support from CJ Isit, Andrew Estrella, Darrell Menina, Eriobu and Biteng.
Isit can contribute with his averages of 11.2 points and 3.9 rebounds.
The second seeded Chiefs are coming off a 73-80 loss to the San Beda Red Lions in their playoff for the no.1 seeding last Tuesday.
Akhuetie was disciplined by the school following a disagreement with Perpetual consultant Nosa Omorogbe in one of the team’s practice sessions and this led to a fistfight.
With the incident behind them, Akhuetie is expected to be in top form and within range of his averages of 18.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks.
The Altas are expected to capitalize on their advantage in size now that the Red Lions will play without Cameroonian reinforcement Donald Tankoua because of injury.
Last Tuesday, the LSGH Greenies turned to the free throw line in the last 21.1 seconds to put away the Arellano University Braves, 79-76, in their playoff for no. 3.
Troy Mallinlin and Joel Cagulangan split his free throws on fouls by Carlo Abadeza and Guilmer de la Torre in the remaining 21.1 seconds and 3.6 seconds respectively to bail the Greenies out of trouble.
Sixteen-year-old Unique Naboa fired a game-high 21 points for the Greenies, who made it past playoffs for the second time in four years.
(Final Four at the MOA Arena)
10 a.m. San Beda vs Arellano (jrs)
11:45 a.m. Mapua vs LSGH (jrs)
2 p.m. San Beda vs UPHSD(srs)
4 p.m. Arellano University vs Mapua (srs)