Photo from GMA NCAA
The Cardinals showed steady resolve at the height of the Golden Stags comeback from 19-points down to catch league co-leaders Letran Knights and San Beda Red Lions atop the standings with a clean 3-0 record.
Warren Bonifacio provided a game-long brilliance of 16 points and 14 rebounds on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting from the field while Brian Lacap provided support with 14 markers.
Paolo Hernandez who finished with 12 points also played big for Mapua as he delivered the clutch triple with 1:39 left to rebuild a seven-point cushion, 62-55, after San Sebastian cut the lead down to just four following a 12-6 start in the final frame.
Banking on its no-quit mentality, the Stags still threatened behind the efforts of Rommel Calahat and Ken Villapando but a huge steal from Bonifacio with 18 seconds left slammed the door on any hopes of comeback for San Sebastian
Coach Randy Alcantara credited his players for the good start to the season as they display the maturity beyond their years especially during the crucial moments of the game.
“Di ko rin naman hinahanap na mag start kami ng 3-0,” said Alcantara. “Pero sa sipag ng mga players, sumusunod sila sa gusto namin ipagawa sa kanila, syempre yung tapang ng dibdib nila at lakas ng loob nila sa end game, nagagawa namin ‘yung mga gusto namin magawa.”
Ichie Altamirano and JM Calma led San Sebastian with 10 points apiece
It was a tale of two quarters in the first half as San Sebastian quickly seized the lead in the opening frame, 12-7. The Cardinals, though behind the steady play from Bonifacio turned it on in the second canto to take the lead, 29-23 at the half.
After struggling from beyond the arc in the first two quarters, the Cardinals found the bottom of the net from distance in the third frame as Lacap, Bonifacio and Rhenz Nocum joined hands to give Mapua the biggest lead, 49-30.
Mapua 65 – Bonifacio 16, Lacap 14, Hernandez 12, Nocum 8, Mercado 6, Pido 4, Garcia 2, Agustin 2, Milan 1, Sual 0
San Sebastian 59 – Calma 10, Altamirano 10, Calahat 8, Villapando 8, sumoda 6, Dela Cruz 6, Cosari 6, Are 2, Shanoda 2, Felebrico 1, Una 0, Desoyo 0, Loristo 0, Abarquez 0, Gabat 0
Quarters 7-12, 29-23, 53-41, 65-59
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