Cardinals keep Blazers winless, claim Final Four seat

By Ricky Manliguis

SAN JUAN-- The Final Four cast is now complete. 

Mapua bucked a sluggish start in the first three quarters as it trounced the cellar-dwelling College of St. Benilde, 69-59, to claim a seat in the postseason of Season 92 of the NCAA Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. 

Trailing 29-31 at the half, the Cardinals stepped on the gas to outscore the Blazers, 40-29, as the Muralla-based squad earned a ticket to the postseason with its eleventh win against five losses.

The win by Mapua formally eliminated the 9-8 JRU Heavy Bombers just two days after dethroning the Letran Knights.

The Taft-based squad pulled to within two in the fourth 48-50, before MIT retaliated, scoring 15 points capped off with a Justin Serrano stickback for a 65-53 buffer entering the last two minutes. 

Reigning MVP Allwell Oraeme produced another double-double with 16 points and 19 rebounds, 10 of them offensive, on top of two assists and two blocks. 
Joseph Eriobu was the second leading scorer, finishing with 13 points
 and grabbing four rebounds. 

Team skipper CJ Isit and Serrano each tallied eight points. 

The win enabled Coach Atoy Co's stalwarts to book a ticket to the Final Four, joining the Arellano Chiefs, San Beda Red Lions, and Perpetual Help Altas. They will take on Arellano on Sept. 20, then Perpetual on the 23rd, the last playdate of the elimination round.

The Blazers faltered on another chance to snatch its first win in 16 games, and with two games remaining, the team is on course to fashion the worst win-loss slate in the history of the country's oldest collegiate league. The 2009 Angeles University Foundation (AUF) and 2015 Emilio Aguinaldo College shared the current record with a 2-16 card. 

Yankie Haruna, Gerald Castor, Clement Leutcheu, and Carlo Young all scored in double figures in the loss.

The Scores:

Mapua 69 - Oraeme 19, Eriobu 13, Isit 8, Menina 8, Serrano 8, Victoria 6, Estrella 4, Orquina 2, Bunag 2, Raflores 2.
St. Benilde 59 - Haruna 11, Castor 10, Leutcheu 10, Young 10, Domingo 7, Belgica 6, Dixon 3, Pasamante 2.

scores: 11-18, 29-31, 50-46, 69-59.

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