Noah Lugo and Laurenz Victoria were not letting the flames of Mapua University's playoff hopes in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament get extinguished just like that.
Lugo and Victoria made the right plays when it mattered most, Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre, as the Cardinals fended off University of Perpetual Help, 85-81, to fan their playoff hopes.
The veteran guards had all but two points in the Intramuros-based squad's 7-3 finishing kick that ultimately became their second straight win and ninth overall in 17 games. "Napakahirap talunin ng Perpetual, pero kita ko sa mga mata ng mga bata na gusto nilang manalo," head coach Randy Alcantara said post-game.
Mapua was actually in complete command for majority of the matchup before Ben Adamos powered the Altas back into the game in the final frame where they even mounted a 78-75 lead inside the last three minutes.
It was at that point, however, that Lugo fired a booming triple to tie the tally and then followed that up by setting up Justin Serrano for an inside basket to take back the lead they would never relinquish. "Si Noah naman, alam na nating maasahan yan," head coach Randy Alcantara said of his heady guard who wound up with 12 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
Victoria made sure they remained ahead by going 4-of-4 from the line for the most crucial of his 14 points and four rebounds while Warren Bonifacio chimed in his own 15 markers and seven boards.
Coming through in this must-win situation, Mapua continued to put pressure on fourth-running and 9-7 San Sebastian College-Recoletos.
On the other hand, Perps dropped back-to-back games and dropped to 5-12 in the standings. As they ran out of gas in the endgame, they wasted Adamos' career game of 25 points as well as Kim Aurin's 19-marker, 10-rebound double-double.
MAPUA 85 - Bonifacio 15, Victoria 14, Lugo 12, Gonzales 11, Gamboa 11, Aguirre 9, Bunag 6, Garcia 3, Salenga 2, Serrano 2, Nieles 0.
PERPETUAL 81 - Adamos 25, Aurin 19, Razon 18, Charcos 9, Sese 3, Labarda 2, Sevilla 2, Cuevas 0, Guissani 0, Tamayo 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 25-18, 46-43, 65-64, 85-81.
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