Mapua pushes winning streak to five, keeps pace in Final Four race
Mark Escarlote on Sep 15, 2015 06:54 PM
Allwell Oraeme of Mapua towered over the Letran Knights with a tournament-high 30 rebounds.
Allwell Oraeme grabbed all the rebounds he can grip his hands on.
The 6-foot-9 Nigerian collared a tournament-high 30 rebounds to help the taller Mapua collect its fifth straight win in a 82-77 victory over Letran Knights sans suspended Cardinals coach Atoy Co in the 91st NCAA Seniors basketball competition at The Arena in San Juan Tuesday.
Oraeme scored 18 points with three assists and three blocks but made the biggest impact in controlling the boards as the Cardinals improved their record to 9-5 in fifth spot, half a game behind Perpetual Help (9-4).
Rookie John Nieles had 16 points including seven in the fourth quarter to douse cold water to Letran’s last stretch push. Justin Serrano posted 14 points while Darell Menina had an all-around game of 12 markers, six assists, five rebounds and three steals for Mapua’s first win against the Intramuros-based squad since escaping a 63-60 decision last August 25, 2010 – a total of 10 straight losses.
“Going into the second round coach Atoy talked to the boys that we feel if we work hard and be as a team that is unselfish there is something bigger for us,” said assistant coach Ed Cordero, who will also fill in for Co in the next game with the head tactician serving a two-game ban.
“I told the boys before leaving the room “If we are truly winners the more we work hard for every win”. So that’s the challenge for these boys,” the bench deputy added.
Mapua overhauled a 25-16 deficit in the first quarter by scoring 46 markers in the middle frames against 24 of Letran to build a 58-41 lead in the waning minutes of the third canto.
The Knights erased an 11-point deficit 81-70 in the last 75 seconds with a 7-0 run capped by a Kevin Racal trey with 16 ticks remaining.
Nieles sealed the win with a split from the line with 10.8 seconds in the clock.
Mark Cruz finished with 17 points, Racal had 16, Rey Nambatac scored 15 while Jomari Sollano registered 12 markers and eight boards for Letran, which suffered its third loss in 14 games but remained atop the standings – a full game ahead of defending champion San Beda Red Lions (10-3).
The Knights forced the Cardinals to commit 35 turnovers they converted to 34 points.
Oraeme’s rebounds are just eight boards short of Letran’s total. Mapua pulled a total of 53 caroms. Oraeme broke his own record of 28 boards he plucked in a loss against Letran in the first round.
Mapua 82- Oraeme 18, Nieles 16, Serrano 14, Menina 12, Que 6, Nimes 5, Aguirre 4, Brana 4, Biteng 3, Raflores 0
Letran 77- Cruz 17, Racal 16, Nambatac 15, Sollano 12, Apreku 6, Balanza 5, Quinto 4, Luib 2, Bernabe 0, Gedaria 0
Quarterscores: 16-25; 42-36; 62-49; 82-77
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