Paolo Hernandez puts Red Robins on his back en route to NCAA 94 Finals
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 29, 2018 12:42 PM
Dan Arches finished what Paolo Hernandez and Jonnel Policarpio started for Mapua (FILE PHOTO)
Clearly, main man Clint Escamis is not yet at full strength heading into the Finals of the NCAA 94 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The good news, though, is the other guys are only stepping up for the Red Robins as they got the better of modern-day rival San Beda High School, 75-67, on Monday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Versatile forward Paolo Hernandez turned in his best game yet with a career-high 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds and two steals while rookie standout Jonnel Policarpio also posted a 25-marker, 13-board double-double.
Behind those two, Mapua got to work in the middle periods, outscoring and outworking their opponents, 40-32. “Talagang nangako yung mga bata na babawi sila after yung loss namin,” head coach Randy Alcantara, referring to their defeat to the Red Cubs three days ago that discarded their twice-to-beat advantage.
Of course, San Beda came roaring back and even pulled to within four, 63-67, inside the last two minutes only to see Dan Arches hit a backbreaking triple over the outstretched arms of Tony Ynot with the shot clock winding down.
Arches then followed that with an inside basket to keep their foes at bay once and for all. “It’s all about heart. Mas gusto namin kasi ayaw namin maulit yung first game,” coach Randy said.
The graduating guard wound up with 14 points, half coming in the last two minutes, to go along with seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals to help the Red Robins overcome the lacking output from Escamis who was scoreless in his second game back from a left knee injury.
Now, Mapua turns its attention to a Finals rematch with defending champion College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills.
For the Red Cubs, Kai Oliva topped the scoring column with 16 points in his last game in red and white. Josh Lazaro also had a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double.
Despite falling short of the Finals for the second straight season, the campaign remains a success for a squad made up of 13 first-year players and just one returnee.
MAPUA 75 – Hernandez 27, Policarpio 25, Arches 14, Sarias 5, Mariano 4, Diaz 0, Escamis 0, Smith 0, Dennison 0, Quimado 0
SAN BEDA 67 – Oliva 16, Lazaro 10, Pelipel 9, Sanchez 8, Llarena 7, Coyoca 6, Estacio 3, Ynot 2, Alcantara 2, Andrada 2
QUARTER SCORES: 14-15, 37-32, 54-47, 75-67
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.