Warren Bonifacio of the Mapua Cardinals (NCAA/GMA)
The Cardinals proved that they are not out of the picture just yet, improving to a 4-9 record behind the joint efforts led by Warren Bonifacio, Jeric Pido, Paolo Hernandez, and Toby Agustin, who all scored in double-digits.
It was the balanced attack of Mapua that doused the 22-point outing of Perpetual’s Carlo Ferreras, who caught fire from beyond the arc with a 4-of-5 shooting alongside four rebounds and four assists.
Bonifacio topscored with 14 points along with nine rebounds and three assists, Pido chalked up 13 points and four rebounds, while Hernandez and Agustin had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Cardinals, who only had nine turnovers, displayed a different kind of defense as they forced the Altas to turn the ball over 21 times, while also grabbing seven steals.
Hernandez and Adrian Nocum, who also chipped in nine points and 10 rebounds, took care of the ball rotation which paved the way for effective offense and they dished out five assists apiece for Mapua.
But it all boiled down the second half as the Cardinals held off Ferreras’ fiery assault in the third quarter after he unloaded 13 straight points en route to a 54-52 Altas deficit bridging the payoff period.
At that point, Mapua was still leading before Pido took charge to regain another 10-point margin capped by a corner three with four minutes to go, 69-59.
But the Altas never wavered and unloaded yet another 6-0 blitz to cut the deficit by four, 69-65, down to the last minute until John Cedrick Abis came up with a crucial steal — a play that could have turned the tables for the trailing Perpetual.
Jielo Razon, who was limited to two points only on a dismal 1-of-6 shooting, however, then turned the ball over when it mattered the most as Perpetual had no choice but to force a foul on Nocum in the waning seconds.
Nocum showed steely nerves and sank three free throws, though splitting the first attempt, before he sealed an offensive rebound to seal the deal for Mapua.
Ferreras was the lone bright spot for the Altas, who slipped to a 5-7 slate, as Christian Pagaran became the next top scorer with 10 points and three rebounds.
Abis, who spearheaded Perpetual last time alongside Ferreras in their 75-72 overtime victory against San Beda, was only limited to five points and eight rebounds.
MAPUA 73 — Bonifacio 14, Pido 13, Hernandez 11, Agustin 10, Nocum 9, Cuenco 8, Mercado 6, Soriano 2, Garcia 0, Salenga 0.
PERPETUAL 65 — Ferreras 22, Pagaran 10, Abis 5, Egan 5, Roque 5, Boral 5, Barcuma 4, Flores 3, Razon 2, Omega 2, Nitura 2, Martel 0, Orgo 0.
Quarters: 18-23, 34-37, 60-54, 73-65.
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