MAPUA refused to go down quietly, stunning CSB-La Salle Greenhills, 85-76, on Monday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena to send the NCAA Season 94 juniors basketball Finals to a deciding third game.
Defying the pesky defense of Lennox Valenzuela, Dan Arches scored eight straight points in the second quarter on his way to a 22-point, five-rebound outing to keep the Red Robins alive in the championship series.
Game 3 is set on Thursday.
Rookie of the Year Jonnel Policarpio also stepped up with his monster double-double numbers of 14 points and 14 rebounds, on top of three blocks and three steals.
Paolo Hernandez added 13 points and 10 boards while Karl Mariano got 11 and two to make up for the absence of main man Clint Escamis, who is still nursing a right knee injury.
"Sinabi ko lang na natalo tayo ng Game One pero hindi pa sila champion. Kaya nga best-of-three eh. Kailangan natin makuha ang Game Two kahit gaano kahirap," said coach Randy Alcantara.
The Greenies piled pressure on the Red Robins after a lay-up from Mark Sangco cut the deficit down to one, 59-58 early in the fourth quarter.
But Mapua answered with an 11-3 blast capped by a booming Hernandez three-pointer from the top of the arc that gave the Red Robins a 70-61 advantage with 5:19 remaining.
Seeking a second successive title, CSB-LSGH misfired badly and made just 25-percent of its shots. Season MVP Joel Cagulangan shot 4-of-17 from the field and finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals in the losing effort.
Mythical Team selection Joshua David did worse, shooting a disastrous 1-of-15 clip to only settle for five points.
Inand Fornilos chimed in 13 points and 12 boards, Sangco had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Valenzuela also got 13 in the defeat.
MAPUA 85 - Arches 22, Policarpio 14, Hernandez 13, Mariano 11, Smith 8, Sarias 6, Lazarte 3, Fransman 3, Quimado 2, Dennison 2, Diaz 1.
CSB-LSGH 76 - Cagulangan 17, Fornilos 13, Sangco 13, Valenzuela 13, David 5, Lepalam 4, Palencia 4, Calimag 4, Mosqueda 3, Morales 0, Lao 0.
Quarters: 20-25, 42-39, 59-56, 85-76.