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Thursday, February 22, 2024

MVP candidate Escamis helps Cardinals whip Lions in Game 1

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THE Mapua Cardinals stayed on course with their goal of ending a 32-year title drought in the 99th National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament.

Top MVP candidate Clint Escamis came back just in time from a bout with leg cramps to sink two crucial charities in the last 8.5 seconds, sending the Cardinals to a 68-63 stopping of a rallying San Beda Red Lions in Game 1 of their best-of-three finals’ showdown at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The 5’11” Escamis came through with 18 points, to go with six rebounds, two assists and three steals for the Cardinals, who now have the momentum to claim the crown in Game 2 on Sunday.

Escamis’ freebies halted the Red Lions’ big rally from 11 points down in the last five minutes.

“We’re glad na nakuha namin ang first game of the series. Pero hindi naman doon matatapos. It’s not done yet. We need to practice pa. Hindi pa tapos, kailangan namin paghandaan ang Game 2. Babawi ang San Beda,” said team skipper Warren Bonifacio.

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Bonifacio spoke on behalf of Cardinals’ coach Randy Alcantara, who received first aid after the game following a hypertensive spell during the final moments of their encounter.

The Cardinals’ five-point cushion in the remaining time of the last period gave them an opportunity to close in on their sixth title conquest since they last took it in 1991.

Escamis shot five points in the last 10 minutes of the match, with his triple in the final 4:11 putting the Cardinals up by nine, 64-55.

Jacob Cortez, who had 12 points, presided over San Beda’s rally in the remaining time, scoring six points in the final quarter.

Cortez, along with Oliver Tagle, brought the Red Lions within range at 61-66 with their three charities and triple, in the final 2:11.

James Payosing showed the way with 14 points for the Red Lions, who are seeking their first crown since 2018.

Escamis provided leadership in the second quarter, making six points, with his trey and jumper in the last 40.5 seconds fuelling Mapua’s 18-2 run which turned Cardinals’ 19-29 deficit into a 37-31 halftime edge.

Mapua moved away by 12 off Escamis’ triple and jumper, and Paolo Hernandez’ euro step drive, 55-43, with 2:04 to go in the second period.

Escamis’ temporary absence when he left the court because of cramps saw the Cardinals grabbing their biggest edge, 59-43, in the final 23 ticks of the third period, before the Lions threatened to within 5 at 61-66.

The scores:
Mapua 68- Escamis 18, Hernandez 16, Rosillo 15, Bonifacio 15, Bonifacio 6, Recto 5, Cuenco 4, Soriano 4, Fornis 0, Dalisay 0.
San Beda 63- Payosing 14, Puno 12, Cortez 12, Andrada 8, Jopia 8, Tagle 5, Cuntapay 2, Visser 2, Alfaro 0, Gonzales 0, Royo 0, Gallego 0.
Quarterscores: 17-17; 36-31; 59-48; 68-63.

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