The Mapua Red Robins denied the defending champion La Salle-Greenhills six scoring chances in the final minute to pull off a 77-74 win in Game 3 yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Defense on Greenies’ sharpshooters Joel Cagulangan, Kobe Palencia and Joshua David allowed the Red Robins to hold LSGH scoreless in the dying seconds and claim their 22nd title in the 94th National Collegiate Athletic Association junior basketball tournament.
University of Santo Tomas transferee and Finals MVP Paolo Hernandez showed the way with 33 points and 12 rebounds for the Red Robins, who avenged their 74-75 setback to the Greenies in Game 3 of last year’s finals.
“Masaya ako. Siyempre, ito ang pinaka-masaya. Kulang kami sa tao. Na-sustain pa rin namin ang ganu’ng intensity, energy. Credit sa mga players,” said coach Randy Alcantara, adding that could be his final stint for the Red Robins, who have matched the record of the San Beda Red Cubs as the team with the most number of league titles in the junior division.
After 11 years of handling the Robins, Alcantara said that he is into talks with the school which plans to move over to the Mapua Cardinals’ camp as their new head coach in time for Season 95, in place of Atoy Co.
Under Alcantara’s watch, the Red Robins’ won two titles in the last three years that they reached the finals.
Dan Arches, stepping up in the absence of injured Clint Escamis, banged in 22 points. He went for a driving shot in the last 1:12 off Karl Mariano’s interception play on Cagulangan and this handed the Red Robins a 77-72 edge.
The Greenies, who drew 18 points from Inand Fornilos, tried to catch up in the remaining time. But blocks by Hernandez and Roseller Sarias on attempts by Palencia and Cagulangan with 36 seconds to go quashed La Salle’s bid.
The Red Robins earlier lost Game 1, 69-74, before bouncing back in Game 2, 85-76.
The Greenies managed to limit the Red Robins to six points in the last period. But the prolific Cagulangan could only make five of his 10-point tally in the final canto due to the defense done on him by Sarias.
After Mariano bungled two charities in the remaining 28.5 seconds, David and Palencia missed attempts in the last four seconds.
The Red Robins went into early celebration and LSGH was given a chance to shoot a final trey with 0.5 seconds remaining. But David’s late basket was not counted.
MAPUA 77 -- Hernandez 33, Arches 22, Sarias 5, Smith 5. Quimado 4, Policarpio 4, Mariano 2, Dennison 2, Lazarte 0, Diaz 0.
LSGH 74 -- Fornilos 18, David 13, Cagulangan 10, Palencia 8, Natividad 7, Calimag 6, Sangco 4, Lao 3, Mosqueda 3, Valenzuela 2, Lepalam 0. Quarters: 18-15, 42-34, 71-56, 77-74.