By Joey Villar

MAPUA coach Randy Alcantara pleaded to his Cardinals to continue to trust their shooters despite being horrid from beyond the three-point arc to start their season. Their faith paid off.

Firing on all cylinders from rainbow country for the second straight game, Mapua outgunned College of St. Benilde (CSB), 84-65, on Tuesday to keep its grip of the third spot in the 97th NCAA basketball tournament at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.

Brian Lacap and Paolo Hernandez presided over CSB’s three-point shooting spree as each fired four of their team’s 12 treys and helped lift the Blazers to their fifth win in seven outings while closing in on a spot to the play-in phase.

Letran and San Beda led the way with perfect 5-0 records.

It was another shooting feast for the Cardinals after draining a season-high 16 triples in a 95-83 win over the Perpetual Help Altas on Wednesday.

Mapua’s two-game total of 28 threes surpassed the 27 (out of 115 attempts) it made in its first five outings.

And all of it was because the Cardinals responded to Mr. Alcantara’s call.

“Coach kept telling us in practice to keep our trust on each other and believe in our open teammates from the outside and pass it to them. We also did extra shooting after practice,” said Mr. Lacap, who finished with a career-high 22 points.

“We’re thankful that our faith and efforts paid off,” he added.

While Mapua hummed from the perimeter, CSB just utterly stunk and hit just one — courtesy of Fil-Kiwi Taine Davis in garbage time — of 18 shots from there.

Mr. Lacap, who honed his crafts playing street ball in Valenzuela, ended up with a well-rounded effort as he complimented his spectacular scoring game with four rebounds, four steals and two assists.

Mr. Hernandez, for his part, wound up with 17 points.

MVP candidate Will Gozum saw action after coming into the game as doubtful to play due to a sore foot and led his squad with 13 points, 14 boards and two blocks.

It wasn’t enough though to negate the Mapua barrage as the Blazers fell to fourth with a 4-3 mark.

The scores:

First Game

Mapua 84 – Lacap 22, Hernandez 17, Nocum 14, Agustin 9, Gamboa 8, Pido 6, Mercado 4, Bonifacio 4, Asuncion 0, Salenga 0, Milan 0, Garcia 0, Soriano 0.

CSB 65 – Gozum 13, Corteza 11, Benson 10, Carlos 8, Nayve 6, Davis 5, Marcos 4, Cullar 4, Lepalam 3, Flores 1, Mosqueda 0, Sangco 0, Publico 0, Lim 0.

Quarterscores: 19-19; 39-30; 62-47; 84-65.