By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
HAD THEIR first taste of victory in National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 95 last time around, the Mapua Cardinals go for a second serving when they trek back to the court today against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Set for 2 p.m., the Cardinals (1-5) try to build on their breakthrough win over the Arellano Chiefs, 73-64, on Saturday and continue their flight in the ongoing season of the country’s oldest collegiate league.
Playing in the 4 p.m. game, meanwhile, are the still-undefeated College of Saint Benilde Blazers (4-0) against Arellano (1-5).
Guard Laurenz Victoria provided the motor in Mapua’s debut win over the Chiefs, finishing with a career-high 29 points, built on an efficient 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 12-of-15 from the charity stripe.
He also wound up with eight rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Arellano kept Mapua in check in the opening half but saw its opponent play steady on both ends in the second fold as the latter made its way to the win.
Providing support to Victoria was Paolo Hernandez, who finished with 14 markers, while Arvin Gamboa had nine to help the Cardinals hand new coach Randy Alcantara his first win.
Victoria said they take pride in the win as it was a product of their hard work in training despite the tough start they have had and digging deep collectively during the game.
“We really needed this win because every time we lose the morale of the team somehow goes down. We saw an opening to win in this game and we just stayed aggressive and went for it,” said Victoria, in the vernacular, after the game.
Incidentally, the career game of Victoria led to him being named the NCAA player of the week.
In winning the award, given by media covering the league, Victoria edged out Lyceum’s Mike Nzeusseu and San Beda’s Evan Nelle.
Out to stop the Cardinals is EAC (1-5), which has lost four straight but nonetheless is competing each outing.
The most recent of the Generals’ defeats came at the hands of Jose Rizal University, 64-58, in an NCAA on Tour offering on Aug. 1.
Leading the way for EAC is guard Marwin Taywan, going for 15.7 points per game. Forward JP Maguliano has been a double-double machine for the team with 14.3 points and 12.2 rebounds while Jethro Mendoza has been good for 12 points per outing for the Oliver Bunyi-coached Generals.
Meanwhile, with all of its three scheduled matches previously washed out by bad weather, Saint Benilde is hoping to finally take the floor and continue its solid run so far in NCAA 95.
The last time the Blazers played was on July 30 against the San Sebastian Stags and came away as a 77-72 winner despite playing sans top man Justin Gutang who was out because of knee injury.
Guard Unique Naboa paced CSB with 15 points, followed by Chris Flores with 14.
Jimboy Pasturan and Clement Leutcheu each had 12 points for the Blazers while veteran Yankie Haruna finally played his first game from injury and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Blazers eye win number five against season host Arellano, which has lost two consecutive games after notching its first victory of the season.