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    Lugo, Gonzales clutch as Mapua outlasts Letran in 2OT NCAA thriller

    2 days ago
    Noah Lugo, Justin Serrano, and Cyril Gonzales lead the Cardinals to the hard-fought win.
    PHOTO: marlo cueto

    MAPUA hacked out a tough 105-101 double overtime victory to put an end to Letran's three-game win streak Friday in the NCAA Season 95 seniors basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

    Cyril Gonzales came out big for the Cardinals in the second overtime, first scoring the layup that gave them a 104-100 lead with 26.7 seconds left, before averting disaster and intercepting Allen Mina's pass late that set the stage for Laurenz Victoria sealing the game shut with a split in the final 9.7 ticks.

    Noah Lugo unleashed a career-best 31 points, to go with five rebounds and four assists to lead Mapua to a good start in the second round as it rose to 4-6.

    Gonzales also added 18 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals, while Victoria had 13 points, three dimes, and two boards in the win.

    "Ayoko na maulit na makita yung seniors ko na parang nada-down sila. Pinipilit ko na matapik yung bola. Ako imbes na madown ako, ako yung magsisimulang bumuhay sa group," said the rookie Gonzales.

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    Justin Serrano also stepped up with five points in the second extension, including the go-ahead bucket that put the Cardinals ahead, 102-100, with 39.8 seconds remaining.

    "Tinrabaho talaga ng players, especially yung execution ng offense at defense namin," said coach Randy Alcantara who was rushing to get to Olivarez College in Paranaque for his responsibilities with the San Juan Knights-Go for Gold in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).

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    Letran had numerous times to win the game, but the breaks just didn't go its way.

    After Ato Ular knotted the count at 80 with 4.4 ticks left in regulation, Lugo was called for a travelling violation, but Jerrick Balanza would miss his triple at the buzzer.

    The same was the case in the first overtime, where Larry Muyang's undergoal stab put the Knights up, 89-87, but Paolo Hernandez answered with a long two to tie the game at 89 with 4.1 seconds left. Balanza had a shot to once again play the role of the hero, but his fadeaway could not find the bottom of the net.

    It was Mapua's first win over Letran since Andoy Estrella buried the game-winning three in its 78-75 conquest back in July 11, 2017.

    "Hindi sila bumigay sa unang overtime hanggang pangalawang overtime, kahit nag-cramps na pero nandoon pa rin sila at lumaban," lauded Alcantara, with his side taking the win in the first double-overtime game in the NCAA since Lyceum's classic 107-105 thriller over San Beda back in October 19, 2017 to complete the historic 18-game sweep.

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    Fran Yu carried the Knights in the losing end with 23 points, seven assists, three rebounds, and three steals in a game where they lost a 10-point lead, 50-40, in the third frame and saw the Cardinals fight back thanks to a 17-5 run to hold a 66-64 lead at the 7:33 mark of the fourth quarter.

    The defeat also spoiled the sensational game from Ular, who powered Letran with 19 points and 23 boards.

    Balanza settled for 17 points on a horrid 5-of-15 clip from the field, to go with seven dimes and three rebounds as the Knights dropped to 7-4.

    The Scores:

    MAPUA 105 -- Lugo 31, Gonzales 18, Victoria 13, Serrano 12, Hernandez 9, Nieles 9, Bonifacio 8, Bunag 5, Salenga 0, Aguirre 0, Jabel 0, Garcia 0, Nocum 0.

    LETRAN 101 -- Yu 23, Ular 19, Balanza 17, Muyang 10, Batiller 10, Mina 7, Sangalang 5, Ambohot 4, Caralipio 4, Javillonar 2, Olivario 0, Balagasay 0, Reyson 0, Guarino 0.

    Quarters: 9-18, 34-37, 58-59, 80-80, 89-89, 105-101.

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    Noah Lugo, Justin Serrano, and Cyril Gonzales lead the Cardinals to the hard-fought win.
    PHOTO: marlo cueto
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