Friday, 5 September 2008 89 Comments
FOR THE UMPTEENTH time, the Mapua Cardinals refused to roll over. Finally, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve secured a playoff berth for a spot in the Final Four.
The Cardinals started the game strong to derail the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 72-61, to create a three-way tie for the last Final Four spot in the 84th NCAA menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basketball tournament last September 5, 2008, at the Pasay Astrodome.
After seizing the edge early in the game, the Cardinals slowed down the tempo to join their victims and the San Sebastian Stags in a three-way tie with 9-5 records.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Luckily, it is working in our favor, this old-school, slow-down type of basketball we have been doing lately,Ã¢â‚¬? said Cardinals coach Leo Isaac. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We just want to preserve the advantage for good.Ã¢â‚¬?
Allan Mangahas topscored Mapua with 22 points, including 12 in the final quarter, to go along with five rebounds, six assists and four steals, while Kelvin dela PeÃƒÂ±a amassed 18 points, nine assists and nine boards.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was already hurt in the fourth quarter due to the gameÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s physicality. But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s okay in someway,Ã¢â‚¬? said Mangahas, who shot 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They really wanted to defeat us but weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not ready for a vacation.Ã¢â‚¬?
Neil Pascual added 12 points and Jonathan Banal tallied 11 for this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s host, who also extended their winning run to four games.
The NCAA Management Committee, meanwhile, declared that teams with the same records will knock each other out through a one-off playoff game, while the quotient system will only be employed to determine seedings.
Defending champion San Beda College is on top with a 10-3 mark, while Letran College is in second with a 9-4 slate. Both teams lock horns on Wednesday.
After a close first half, the Cardinals stepped on the gas early in the third quarter, with Banal and dela PeÃƒÂ±a scoring a couple of baskets to extend their squadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lead to eight, 54-46, at the end of 30 minutes of play.
Mapua then shut down JRU in the last quarter, with dela PeÃƒÂ±a putting the clamps on Heavy Bombers playmaker Marc Cagoco. JRU moved to within six, though, at 56-62 when forward Marvin Hayes scored on an undergoal stab with 3:21 to go.
But Mangahas fired a clutch trey that stretched MapuaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spread to 65-56 with 2:05 left.
The Cardinals limited the production of both Cagoco and JR Sena, who combined for only nine points. Hayes paced JRU with a season-high 19 markers, while Maui Pradas fired in 11.
Mapua 72 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Mangahas 22, dela PeÃƒÂ±a 18, N. Pascual 12, Banal 11, Mazo 5, J. Pascual 2, Soriano 2, Sarangay 0.
JRU 61 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Hayes 19, Pradas 11, Nocom 9, Wilson 6, Sena 6, Njei 5, Cagoco 3, Agas 2, Bulangis 0.
Quarter scores: 18-16; 35-31; 54-46; 72-61