Mapua books last NCAA semis seat, keeps St. Benilde winless

Mapua Institute of Technology survived an upset scare from the College of St. Benilde after pulling off a 69-59 win to secure the last Final Four slot in the 92nd NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the San Juan Arena on Thursday.

More importantly, the Cardinals remain in contention for the twice-to-beat playoff advantage should they sweep their two remaining games in the elimination.

Afaints┬áthe lone winless team in the NCAA this season though, Mapua had to rely on its grit while reigning league MVP Allwell Oraeme’s three-point play conversion with 2:34 remaining in the third canto enabled the Cardinals to take a 45-42 lead.

From there, Mapua managed to build its lead on the way to chalking up its 11th win in 16 games.

“Dumaan kami sa butas ng karayom ngayon. Maybe the boys are pressured,” Mapua head coach Atoy Co said after the game.

“Benilde has something to gain but nothing to lose. I think they played harder than us in the first two quarters. But only in the third and the fourth nagising ‘tong mga players ko.”

Oraeme tallied double-double numbers of 16 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Cardinals.

The win slammed the Final Four door on Jose Rizal University (9-8), which was hoping Mapua will lose its last three games to at least force a playoff for the last semis spot.

The Blazers on the other hand, have already tied the wosrt record in league history with a 0-16 card and could set the worst win-loss record all-time if they lose at least one more game. – John Chester Fajardo

Follow this writer on Twitter: @_chesterfajardo

The Scores:

MIT (69) – Oraeme 16, Eriobu 13, Isit 8, Menina 8, Serrano 8, Victoria 6, Estrella 4, Bunag 2, Orquina 2, Raflores 2, Aguirre 0.

CSB (59) – Castor 10, Leutcheu 10, Young 10, Domingo JJ 7, Belgica 6, Dixon 3, Pasamante 2, Pajarillaga 0, Pili 0, Saavedra 0, Suarez 0.

Quarterscores: 11-18, 31-29, 50-46, 69-59