Riding on a fiery third quarter run, Mapua University mauled Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC), 76-66, for its first back-to-back victories in Season 95 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball tournament on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
The Cardinals uncorked a 21-0 blast to break the game wide open in the third period on their way to a second straight win after a five-game losing start.
Mapua broke free from a deadlock at the bottom as it moved up to No. 8 with a 2-5 record.
“That (third quarter run) started with our defense. Our players became aggressive on the defensive end and our offense just followed,” said the Cardinals’ assistant coach Yong Garcia.
“We focused more on individual skills and at the same time strengthened our team defense,” he added.
Rookie guard Cyril Gonzales fired 13 points while fellow freshman Paolo Hernandez tallied 11 markers and veteran scorer Laurenz Victoria chipped in 10 points for the Intramuros-based team.
All but three of the 12 other players deployed by head coach Randy Alcantara added at least two points in the win.
Mapua took a 35-23 lead late in the second quarter but EAC closed within 34-35 early in the third frame, forcing Alcantara to call a timeout.
Alcantara’s wards responded big time, unloading 21 straight points capped by Gonzales’ back-to-back layups for an insurmountable 56-34 advantage.
A late EAC fightback that saw a disqualifying foul and unsportsmanlike foul on Mapua’s Jasper Salenga and Joaqui Garcia, respectively, did not stop the Cardinals from soaring to their first streak.
JC Luciano had 12 points and seven boards while JP Maguliano had 10 markers for the Generals, who remained at the cellar after dropping to a fourth consecutive defeat and an overall 1-6 slate.
Earlier in juniors play, La Salle Greenhills trampled on Arellano High School, 74-66, to earn a share of the second spot.
RC Calimag came up with 19 points, Kobe Palencia scored 17 markers while Jiam Quiambao and Gian Arciaga added 17 and 13 points, respectively, carrying the Greenies to a joint second with the Braves on a similar 5-2 card.
Arellano saw its five-game winning streak end.
In other juniors match, reigning champion Mapua also seized its first streak after crushing EAC-Immaculate Conception Academy, 83-68, behind Jeonel Policarpio and Megan Galang.
Policarpio drilled a 16-point, 11 rebound double-double and Galang also chalked 16 markers as the Red Robins climbed to 2-5 and sent the Brigadiers down to 1-6.