By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Mapua Cardinals made it two wins in a row in National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 95 with a 76-66 victory over the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals in league action on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
Following a rough start to the ongoing season of the country’s oldest collegiate league which saw them lose their first five games, Randy Alcantara-coached Mapua has won back to back with the win over the skidding Generals, which was in follow-up to their breakthrough win on Saturday versus season host Arellano University.
Against EAC, Mapua used a fiery third-quarter run to leave their opponents behind, from which the Generals could never recover from.
Led by Cyril Gonzales and veteran Warren Bonifacio, Mapua took control in the early goings of the contest, taking a 15-10 lead at the end of the opening quarter and a more wider advantage, 35-27, at the half.
In the third period, the Generals opened things aggressively, going on a 7-0 run in the first minute and half, led by Jethro Mendoza, to come within a point, 35-34.
The Cardinals sued for time after to regroup and answered with an 21-0 blast of their own to steady the ship and take a 56-34 lead by the 2:25 mark.
Mapua would ride the wave for the rest of the period to maintain control and carry a 60-39 lead entering the payoff quarter.
Having practically taken the fight out of the Generals with their ferocious run in the previous quarter, the Cardinals spent the opening minutes of the final canto pinning EAC some more.
Reigning NCAA player of the week Laurenz Victoria and Paolo Hernandez conspired to help their team to a 25-point separation, 67-42, with seven minutes to go.
JP Maguliano tried to rally back the Generals, who came within 12 points, 76-66, in the closing seconds of the game but that was the closest EAC could get as Mapua went for the closeout from there.
Gonzales led the Cardinals with 13 points, followed by Hernandez and Victoria with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Bonifacio and Justin Serrano each had eight markers while guard Noah Lugo finished with seven markers for Mapua (2-5).
For EAC it was JC Luciano who led with 12 points with Maguliano adding 10 and Renz Gonzales nine markers.
With the loss, the Generals have lost five straight matches, dropping to a 1-6 card.