Minus MVP Gozum, Red Robins find a way to force Game 3 against Jr. Blazers

Red Robins find a way to force Game 3 against Jr. Blazers
THE WAY. Clint Escamis took over for Mapua when Season MVP Will Gozum fouled out of the do-or-die game.

Mapua University took full advantage of the absence of Inand Fornilos on Thursday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Still, Joel Cagulangan made sure College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills wasn’t going to give up that easy.

In the end, however, the Red Robins’ championship poise proved to be the difference as they hacked out a 91-81 triumph over the Junior Blazers in Game 2 of the Finals in the NCAA 93 Juniors Basketball Tournament.

Clinging onto a five-point lead inside the last two minutes, back-to-back layups from Clint Escamis energized the defending champions through their challengers and onto evening the best-of-three series at one-all. “Sinabi ko lang na stay aggressive. Yun lang,” head coach Randy Alcantara said.

Indeed, the do-it-all swingman was aggressive all throughout the matchup and wound up with 25 points, four rebounds, four assists, four steals, and one block. “Big kasi yung nakabantay sa akin so I took advantage ng speed ko. Inatake ko lang talaga,” he said post-game.

Mapua needed all of that production as Season MVP Will Gozum struggled for the second straight game. He fouled out early in the final frame in this one and only had 10 points, six rebounds, and two blocks.

Gozum’s team found their once 13-point lead dwindle down to only 69-68 early in the final frame just as he fouled out. “Hindi katulad last game na nagmamadali kami, ngayon, nag-possession by possession talaga kami,” Alcantara said.

Indeed, Escamis took charge and had four points in a 17-8 run that remounted an 86-76 advantage in favor of the Red Robins.

Still, the Junior Blazers made a run to keep it interesting only to be thwarted yet again by Escamis’ successful forays into the paint coupled with a split from the stripe from Grant Dennison.

Warren Bonifacio also contributed with the heavy lifting for the Red Robins by posting an 18-point, 14-rebound double-double. Erick Jabel also added 17 markers off the bench.

With all that effort, Mapua stayed alive and forced a winner-take-all Game 3 scheduled for Tuesday still at the same venue.

There, CSB-LSGH will be welcoming back double-double machine Fornilos who had to serve a one-game suspension in Game 2.

Joel Cagulangan still showed the way for them in this one with 16 points.

BOX SCORES

MAPUA 91 – Escamis 25, Bonifacio 18, Jabel 17, Goum 10, Garcia 8, Enriquez 6, Lacap 4, Dennison 3, Ramos 0, Sarias 0, Socias 0

CSB-LSGH 81 – Cagulangan 16, David 12, Marcos 12, Lepalam 10, Mosqueda 9, Perez 9, Sangco 5, Morales 4, Lao 4, Belgica 0, Pedrosa 0, Dela Cruz 0, Cruz 0

QUARTER SCORES: 25-19, 55-46, 67-67, 91-81

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