Despite the sloppy performance of Allwell Oraeme, Mapua Institute of Technology managed to put up a strong second half to outlast Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC), 82-72, on Thursday in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 92 men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Cardinals bounced back in the last two quarters behind the steady performance of Almel Orquina and Andrew Estrella. The Cardinals with nine victories against five losses have improved their chance of reaching the Final Four.
The Generals, beaten after a back-to-back triumph, were out of the Final Four race with a 5-10 win-loss record.
Estrella notched 13 of his 19 points on top of 10 rebounds and six assists in the final canto while the rookie Orquina finished with 18 points.
“I was inspired by what our coach said earlier,” said Orquina during the post game interview.
Lagging behind 15-19, in the first period, Orquina’s eight points in the second quarter brought the score to 36-all at the halftime break. Mapua’s 26-17 run, a collective effort of Orquina, Darell Menina and JR Raflores resulted in a 62-53 lead going into the last period.
Menina and Flores contributed 14 points apiece, while Joseph Eriobu had eight points also for Mapua.
“We were able to contain them (EAC) despite the sloppy performance of (Allwell) Oraeme,” Mapua coach Atoy Co told The Manila Times in an interview. “It wasn’t an easy game, as expected, but the players were able to follow most of the instructions in the second half.”
Co said that the lethargic performance of the reigning Most Valuable Player might be caused by the cough medication he is taking.
“He (Oraeme) is not physically injured. I asked him during the game why he is soft and looks tired. He told me that he took a cough syrup before the game and he didn’t tell me. He didn’t inform me that he’s not feeling well that’s why he’s performance was affected.. I just told him to focus on playing defense and stopping EAC’s import (Hamadou Laminou), which he did. I will bring him tomorrow to the clinic,” said Co.
The battle for a loose ball between Laurenz Victoria and Hamadou Laminou in the last 1:57 of the game nearly ended in a scuffle. An unsportmanlike foul was also called on Justin Serrano during his engagement with Sidney Onwubere while Estrella was cited for a flagrant foul for hitting Francis Munsayac.
Munsayac scored 25 points while Onwubere posted 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks to lead the Generals.
In the non-bearing second game, San Sebastian College, led by Allyn Bulunadi and Ryan Costelo, thrashed the winless College of Saint Benilde, 66-57, for its sixth win. The Golden Stags now have a win-loss record of 6-10.
Bulunadi scored 17 points and Costelo 10 points for the Golden Stags.
Clement Leutcheu finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers that were still winless in 15 games and are at the bottom of the team standings.