Mapua leaned on a deadly fourth quarter defense to shock the University of Perpetual Help, 67-63, and secure the third place heading into the 92nd NCAA men’s basketball tournament Final Four at the San Juan Arena on Saturday.
The Cardinals trailed by 11 points entering the fourth quarter, but proved to be an impenetrable wall after denying the Altas a field goal in the final canto and outscored them 17-2 to secure the come-from-behind win.
Darell Menina’s trey with 3:09 in the clock gave Mapua a slim 63-62 lead and Joseph Eriobu furhter extended it to a four-point game with a baseline jumper.
The Altas had two chances to tie the game within the two-minute mark but Kieth Pido and Gab Dagangon missed their attempts.
Mapua even left the window open as import Allwell Oraeme missed both his charities in the 9.7 mark, 65-63.
But Eriobu played the heroic role after grabbing the offensive rebound and icing the win with his own pair of free throws.
“Kumpiyansa ang players na we’re able to beat Perpetual than going sa Final Four na galing sa talo. It’s nicer going in na panalo. ‘Di mababa loob mo,” Mapua head coach Atoy Co said after the game.
Oraeme lifted the Cardinals through a monster double-double performance of 14 points and 24 rebounds while Oreobu and Andrew Estrella had 10 points apiece.
Prince Eze, the only Perpetual player to score in the fourth quarter, had 12 points.
Mapua finished the eliminations with a 12-6 while the Altas fall in the fourth place with an 11-7 record. – By John Chester Fajardo