Cardinals snuff Blazers, snap 11-game losing streak

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Mapua’s Christian Buñag braces for a shot against Gerard Castor and Clement Leutcheu of College of Saint Benilde during the NCAA Season 93 senior basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City on Thursday.
PHOTO BY ROGER RANADA

Mapua University displayed solid performance in crunch time to pull off a 79-69 victory over College of Saint Benilde (CSB) on Thursday, snapping an 11-game losing streak in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 93 senior basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.

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The Cardinals unloaded a 26-14 run in the final canto highlighted by the baskets of Laurenz Victoria and Denniel Aguirre to erase a 53-55 third quarter deficit en route to their second win in 14 outings this season.

“It’s been a long time. We just keep on practicing and follow our system every game. We just made a good decision today by sticking to our six players and luckily they were able to produce,” said Mapua coach Atoy Co, whose team is already out of the Final Four race.

“I’m happy I was able to prove that I have eight healthy players —we can still win,” he added.

Victoria poured in seven of his 19 points in the last quarter on top of his seven assists, while Aguirre added eight of his 15 points in the final canto along with nine rebounds to lead the Cardinals. Cedric Pelayo, JP Nieles and Leo Gabo contributed 11 points apiece also for Mapua.

From a 65-68 deficit in the last four minutes, the Cardinals closed the gap with a 14-1 blast sparked by Victoria’s back-to-back baskets and held the Blazers scoreless in the last 3:23.

CSB’s win-loss record fell to 3-11 rendering it officially out of contention for the Final Four spot.

The last time Mapua won this season was against Letran (78-75) last July 11. The Cardinals also avenged their 69-74 loss to the Blazers last August 8 in the first round.

Clement Leutcheu scattered 18 points and secured nine rebounds to lead CSB.

The Scores:
MAPUA 79 – Victoria 19, Aguirre 15, Gabo 11, Nieles 11, Pelayo 11, Buñag 6, Estrella 3, Orquina 2, Raflores 1.
ST. BENILDE 69 – Leutcheu 18, Naboa 12, San Juan 11, Domingo 6, Dixon 5, Belgica 4, Johnson 4, Pili 3, Castor 2, Sta. Maria 2, Mercado 2.
Quarters: 20-17, 37-42, 53-55, 79-69.

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