Mapua University launched a strong fourth quarter kick to frustrate Jose Rizal University at home, 72-60, and open its 94th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on a high note yesterday at the JRU Gym in Mandaluyong City.
Figuring in this season’s first NCAA on Tour, the Cardinals kept the Heavy Bombers at bay and never gave their rivals a window throughout.
The wards of coach Atoy Co, undeterred and unfazed by the passionate JRU home crowd, still saw themselves ahead by just 52-47 entering the payoff period.
Behind Cedric Pelayo and Eric Jabel, the Cardinals finally ran away in the deciding period as they built a huge 63-53 lead off Jabel’s trey midway through the fourth quarter.
It was all Mapua from there as it even stretched the lead to as many as 12 points en route to a convincing away victory.
Mapua momentarily shared the lead alongside contenders San Beda University and Lyceum of the Philippines University with the win.
“I’m happy we were able to do what we’re doing in practice,” Co said.
Veteran Laurenz Victoria racked up 11 points and four assists before cramping out in the dying seconds to lead Mapua’s well-balanced attack.
Seven more Cardinals scored six or more points, led by the debuting senior player Warren Bonifacio with a near double-double of 10 points and nine rebounds.
Meanwhile, RJ David finished with 12 points in a losing cause by the Heavy Bombers.
In the first game, the JRU Light Bombers defended their homecourt against the visiting Red Robins with a huge 80-0 victory.
Meanwhile, Lyceum of the Philippines University eyes the solo lead when it takes on a debuting Emilio Aguinaldo College at noon today still at the Filoil Flying V Center.
After that, San Sebastian College-Recoletos eyes a huge rebound against the vastly-improved College of St.Benilde at 2 p.m. while host University of Perpetual Hep Sytem-Dalta looks to bounce back against Colegio de San Juan de Letran at 4 p.m.