CJ Isit won’t be named by Mapua coach Atoy Co as the Cardinals’ team captain for nothing.
The 5-foot-9 Isit struck the hardest in the stretch as Mapua outlasted San Beda in overtime 101-97 on Thursday night to firm up their grip on the fourth spot in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
After struggling in regulation, Isit exploded in time in the extra five-minute period, pumping in eight of his 15 points while providing the stability to help the Cardinals get back on track and avenge a 74-85 setback dealt by the Red Lions in their initial meeting last July 28.
Mapua improved to 8-5, giving itself ample breathing space over fifth-running Jose Rizal U (7-6) while dealing San Beda just its third loss in 14 matches.
It was also the Cardinals’ first victory over the Red Lions in three years since another Mapua team, with Isit playing as a rookie, defeated San Beda 81-76 last October 7, 2013.
“Malaking boost itong panalo na ito sa San Beda. Hindi kami nag-give up at sobrang laki ng panalo na ito,” said Mapua big man
Joseph Eriobu, who sizzled with a game-high 26 points, 17 of them coming in the second half where the Cardinals came back to life.
Reigning league MVP Allwell Oraeme pounced on the absence of injured San Beda counterpart Donald Tankoua, dominating with 12 points and 24 rebounds on top of two blocks, while Isit also scattered six rebounds, four steals and a lone assist for Mapua.
Javee Mocon had an all-around performance of 19 points, seven rebounds and as many assists while three other teammates scored at least 10 markers but they still could not prevent the Red Lions from a stunning downfall despite holding a four-point cushion with under two minutes left in regulation. – By Jerome Lagunzad
Mapua (101) – Eriobu 26, Isit 15, Menina 14, Oraeme 12, Biteng 11, Estrella 10, Serrano 7, Bunag 6, Victoria 0, Orquina 0
San Beda (97) – Mocon 19, Bolick 18, Potts 15, Noah 10, Tongco 7, Sara 6, Soberano 5, Presbitero 4, Adamos 4, Oftana 4, Navarro 3, Carlos 2, Alas 0, Bahio 0
Quarterscores: 19-17, 39-43, 60-65, 87-87, 101-97 (OT).