CEBU CITY — Mapua outlasted the University of San Carlos, 83-80, on Monday night to win the Cebu City Mayors Cup Invitational championship at the USC gym.
With the game tied at 80, returning wingman Josan Nimes made two free-throws to shatter the deadlock. He finished the match with a game-high 21 points and was later named as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Nimes nearly turned from hero to goat as he missed two shots from the charity stripe and turned the ball over after slipping on an isolation play. Fortunately for the Cardinals, the Warriors were not able to capitalize as USC guard Ian Tagapan lost the ball on their transition attack.
With time not on their side, USC was forced to foul CJ Isit who split his charities to push Mapua’s lead to 83-80, with 9.1 seconds left. The Warriors had one last chance to tie the game but Victor Rabat’s triple attempt was partially deflected and fell way short as time expired.
Former USC guard Stephen Que added 17 markers while Isit pitched in 16. Nigerian reinforcement Allwell Oraeme contributed 10 points to offset the absence of lead guard Andretti Stevens who sat out with a hamstring injury.
The Warriors actually started off hot and sank four triples to lead 27-20 after the first frame. They kept the pressure up and extended their lead to 39-28, after a 10-3 run capped by a Rabat 3-pointer. But the Cardinals kept their composure and took over the lead after scoring nine unanswered points punctuated by a Que transition triple that gave them a 49-46 halftime lead.
In the third, Mapua started to gain some momentum but USC stymied them at every turn to keep the match on near-even terms. A putback by Oraeme put the Cardinals ahead by a slim margin, 70-68, heading to the fourth.
Malaysia bagged the third place trophy with an 87-74 come-from-behind victory over the University of Cebu Webmasters.