Mapua grabs lead; Cortez sparks Lions’ victory


Mapua Cardinals and coach Randy Alcantara. | PHOTO: Tristan Tamayo/

Mapua coach Randy Alcantara watched Lyceum launch a comeback and knew he had seen that before.

“I watched Lyceum versus Arellano, that’s almost exactly what they did today,” Alcantara said on Saturday.

And Alcantara made sure the Cardinals knew what they were up to.

“I told them, ‘I already watched this,’” said Alcantara, referring to Lyceum’s comeback win over Arellano last week. “I told them, if we become complacent, all our efforts in the first half would be wasted so it’s good that they stayed composed and we still executed the right plays.”

Execution mattered for Mapua. But it also helped that the team had Clint Escamis around.

Escamis came up huge as Mapua edged Lyceum, 87-83, to grab the solo lead of the NCAA Season 99 men’s basketball tournament at FilOil EcoOil Centre.

Escamis finished with 20 points, nine boards, seven assists and four steals as the Cardinals claimed the top spot with a 6-1 (win-loss) slate and leapfrogged the Pirates, who dropped to second at 6-2.

It was the Cardinals’ fourth straight win in the tournament.

Meanwhile, San Beda did enough to survive without head coach Yuri Escueta, pulling off a 74-70 victory over gritty Jose Rizal University in the other game.The Red Lions clung to third and fourth spots in the standings after Jacob Cortez hit a go-ahead basket with 53 seconds left that sealed San Beda’s fourth win in six outings.

Cortez finished with a game-high 24 points to help San Beda stay tied with Emilio Aguinaldo College.

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Escueta served a one-game suspension after he was ejected in a 67-62 loss to Lyceum a week ago. In his place, the young Andre Santos took charge of the squad.

“I’m thankful that the boys responded to me,” said the 22-year-old Santos, who was even younger than some of their active players.

Cortez and Lions captain Peter Alfaro combined for 15 points in the final period to thwart every attempt of Jose Rizal to turn the game around.

Marwin Dionisio even pushed the Lions behind when he scored to give the Bombers a 70-69 lead.

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But Cortez stepped up in the stretch to send Jose Rizal tumbling to a 4-3 (win-loss) slate. INQ

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