Mapua survives San Beda to return to NCAA finals for first time in 31 years

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The Mapua Cardinals took down the mighty San Beda Red Lions, 70-67, to book the last ticket to the finals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

The win ended Mapua’s long 31-year finals drought and forged a “Battle of Intramuros” clash with the unbeaten Letran Knights with Game One of the best-of-three affair on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Mapua’s thrilling victory also ended San Beda’s 14-season finals appearance streak.

Arvin Gamboa and Brian Lacap scored 13 points apiece to lead Mapua with the former scoring a clutch layup with under a minute left to put the Cardinals up by three, 68-65. However, Ralph Penuela answered with a quick basket off a well-executed inbound play to trim the deficit to one, 67-68, time down 30.7 seconds.

On the Cardinals’ next possession, Toby Agustin was fouled shooting a layup with 6.4 ticks remaining. The youngster then showed nerves of steel as he sank both free-throws to raise Mapua’s lead to three, 70-67.

San Beda’s last ditch effort at a game-tying triple went nowhere as Kwekuteye’s three-point try from the left wing was way short, giving Mapua the victory.

Paolo Hernandez added 11 markers for the Cardinals.

Yukien Andrada led San Beda with 19 points including four three-pointers. Kwekuteye and Peter Alfaro added 11 each while Cebuano JB Bahio put up nine points, 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. (JNP)

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