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Defensive stops key to Mapua win over Perpetual

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The Mapua University Cardinals banked on two defensive stops late in the fourth period to escape with a 73-65 beating of the University of Perpetual Help Altas, 73-65, on Tuesday in the 98th National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament at the FilOil-EcoOil Arena in San Juan.

Mapua’s Warren Bonifacio and Perpetual Help’s Cedrick Abis battle for board control.

Steals by Paolo Hernandez and Jopet Soriano heading into the last 30 seconds of action allowed the Cardinals to post their fourth triumph in 13 matches.

“Sumandal lang kami sa depensa namin. Grabe ang nilaro ng Perpetual at nu’ng (Carlo) Ferreras,” said Cardinals’ coach Randy Alcantara, after they pulled off their second consecutive triumph.

The Altas, led by Ferreras with 22 points, came back from 10 down, 59-69, in the last four minutes, and threatened at 65-69 in the final 54 seconds off Christian Pagaran’s two charities.

Hernandez and Soriano then forced two turnovers with their steals and the Cardinals went on to score four of six charity attempts in the remaining time.

Adrian Nocum sank three of four freebies in the 11 seconds to put the Cards ahead by seven, 72-65.

Nocum went on to finish with nine points and 10 rebounds, behind teammates Warren Bonifacio, Jeric Pido, Hernandez and Toby Agustin, who unloaded 14, 13, 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Pagaran banged 10 points for the Altas, who stayed in sixth with their 5-7 slate, for their second straight setback.

Ferreras tallied five points in the last period, with his driving shot in the last 3:01 keeping the Altas within range, 63-69.

The Cards hope to stay on the winning track when they clash with the San Sebastian Stags on Friday.

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