GRADUATING Mapua University standouts Cedric Pelayo and Exe Biteng put a fitting end to their college careers after leading the Cardinals to a morale-boosting 91-78 victory over Arellano University in NCAA Season 94 on Tuesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
Pelayo, who played only two seasons in Mapua as he was fielded last year at age 23 years old out of Centennial College in Canada, made his swan song with a career-high 21 points on 47-percent shooting, on top of six rebounds to help the Cardinals finish at sixth place with a 6-12 win-loss record.
“Thank God for that, thank God for my teammates and my coaches. I’m just happy it ended that well for me finishing with a career high. Hopefully, I showed the coaches what I can do,” Pelayo said.
“Even though, we’re not where we wanna be in the Final Four at least we ended on a good note with a win so it’s really a blessing for us, it’s like going away, a present for us that we really could end on a good note with a win so we’re very happy for that,” he added.
For Biteng, although he had less playing time this season and only had two points and four rebounds in his final NCAA game, he was happy ending his five-year collegiate career with a rout.
“Masaya nanalo kami tapos tambak pa kalaban tsaka siguro sa paglalaro ko nung five years,” he said. “Nagpapasalamat din ako sa NCAA kasi kahit papaano nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon na maglaro dito, dati pangarap ko lang ito ngayon naglalaro na ako.”
Biteng was part of the back-to-back final four appearances of Mapua last 2015 and 2016 with former two-time Most Valuable Player Allwell Oraeme. But now moving on from that era, he sees a bright future for the Cardinals next year.
“Nag-Final Four ako back to back 2015 and 2016. Ayun kasi ‘yung time na yun after nung back to back final four. Nawalan kami ng Oraeme malaking (bagay) din yung pagkawala niya,” he said “Pero sa tingin ko naman after ng laro na ‘to by next year feel ko aabot sila sa Final Four.”
Pelayo, for his part, was happy with his two seasons even his first was tough due to a jones fracture on his foot that sidelined him for the whole first round of Season 93.
“My first year, last year, I got injured after the first game with jones fracture sa foot so I really sat out the whole first round and played in the second round,” said Pelayo, who averaged 9.8 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in his first 17 games this season. “So this really is my first whole season in the NCAA but I believe that God has a plan for me, there’s a a reason for everything. I think it really help me look back and just really take in thhe NCAA so I can really slowly adjust to the game. I feel like it was better for me it first than just to be thrown into the fire.”
For now, Pelayo will try his luck as a reserve player for San Juan Knights in the MPBL, while Biteng is still looking for a team in the same league or in the PBA D-League.
“Right now, I’m a reserve player for San Juan; After this I’ll start practicing over there with coach Randy (Alcantara) and hopefully I get a chance to help the team or even get lined up hopefully cause they’re really a good team, “ Pelayo said. “I’ll just gonna work hard in practice and hopefully to get a chance to be in the lineup over there.”
“Sa akin siguro try out sa Maharlika or D-League kasi malaking tulong din ito kasi sa NCAA parang nagscout din yung coaches sa D-League at sa Maharlika,” Biteng said.