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Mapua escapes San Beda's Q4 push to take NCAA Finals opener

Clint Escamis made dagger free throws to give Mapua Game 1 against San Beda. NCAA
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY—Mapua did just enough to withstand a fourth-quarter run by San Beda for a 68-63 win in Game 1 of the NCAA men's basketball finals on Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The Cardinals slowly pulled away late in the second quarter and the third quarter to go ahead, 59-45, late in the third.

A halfcourt heave from Jacob Cortez to beat the third-quarter buzzer seemed to have set up the Red Lions' comeback bid even as they came to within three, 63-66.

Cortez had a chance to tie the game, but he missed a late three-point attempt and Clint Escamis made two free throws in the end to seal Mapua's win.

Escamis finished with 18 points, six rebounds, two assists, and three steals to lead the Cardinals, who can end a 32-year title drought as early as Sunday in Game 2 back at the MOA Arena.

Paolo Hernandez added 16 points, 12 rebounds, and two assists.

James Payosing made 14 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, and one block for the Red Lions, who saw their six-game winning streak dating back to the eliminations snapped and must now take Game 2 to keep their title hopes alive.

The scores:

Mapua 68-Escamis 18, Hernandez 16, Rosillo 15, Bonifacio 15, Bonifacio 6, Recto 5, Cuenco 4, Soriano 4, Fornis 0, Dalisay 0

San Beda 63-Payosing 14, Puno 12, Cortez 12, Andrada 8, Jopia 8, Tagle 5, Cuntapay 2, Visser 2, Alfaro 0, Gonzales 0, Royo 0, Gallego 0

Quarterscores: 17-17; 36-31; 59-48; 68-63

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