JP Nieles blitzes through the competition to keep NCAA Skills Challenge title in Mapua's hands
JP Nieles of Mapua started out strong and outdueled Unique Naboa of CSB in the finals to take the Skills Challenge crown. Dante Peralta

THE NCAA Skills Challenge crown stayed at Mapua as JP Nieles lorded over the event on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Nieles beat Benilde rookie Unique Naboa in the heads-up showdown in the finals to top the event ruled by former Cardinal Shane Menina last year.

"Masaya na nakaka-tense na masarap sa feeling. Kahit down kami, na-prove ko na kaya pa rin namin mag-step up," said Nieles of the beleaguered Mapua team (1-8) shortly after the opening event that kicked off the NCAA All-Star festivities.

The Mapua playmaker said he was inspired by Menina's performance last year.

"Bago ako pumunta dito, chineck ko si Shane, 24.6 seconds yung kailangan ko, na-insipre ako sa ginawa niya," he said.

Nieles hardly looked like he was coming off an ACL injury as he logged in the fastest time in the opening round with 20.7 seconds.

Nieles and Naboa then advanced to the finals after beating Jeremiah Taladua of Letran and Lyceum's Jaycee Marcelino.

Other participants were Michael Are (San Sebastian), Radge Tongco (San Beda), Levi Dela Cruz (Arellano), Jervin De Guzman (Emilio Aguinaldo College), Aaron Bordon (Jose Rizal University), and Keith Pido (Perpetual). 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros