JRU Bombers get a free pass as injury-hit Mapua Cardinals forced to forfeit NCAA match
Cardinals coach Atoy Co says he will not have enough players available for the JRU game. Jerome Ascano

MAPUA will give another Final Four contender a free pass that will boost the latter’s postseason bid in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

After gifting University of Perpetual Help with a victory following forfeiture, the Cardinals are set to forfeit their match against Jose Rizal University for being unable to field at least five players anew on Friday following the suspensions from the bench-clearing brawl in a game against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals.

The Cardinals, who forfeited their game against the Altas due to the suspensions, supposedly will seven players available against the Bombers as Jerome Canaynay, Ronnel Villaseñor, and Darrel Magsigay have served out their one-game bans and would’ve joined Joseph Eriobu, Jessie Saitanan, Jeson Cantos, and Raphael Layug in the depleted lineup.

But Layug sprained his ankle on Monday practice, Villaseñor is suffering from lower back pain, and Magsigay is nursing an ankle problem aside from tonsillitis, leaving the already eliminated Cardinals with only four players fit against the Bombers.

That will force the Intramuros-based dribblers to automatically lose for the 13th time in 17 games.

Cardinals coach Atoy Co confirmed the development and is lamenting the missed chance of playing the spoilers’ role against the Bombers, who will register their 11th win in 17 games by just showing up that would gain them a share of third spot with Perpetual.

“Maybe if we had a full lineup (we could’ve had the chance),” Co told Spin.ph on Thursday.

College of St. Benilde, toting a 10-6 win-loss card, will drop to fifth spot.

The no-bearing game between Letran and Lyceum will push through at 1 p.m.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos