MAPUA coach Chito Victolero’s prayers are starting to be answered.
After playing erratically in an opening-day loss to Jose Rizal University, the Cardinals have finally showed some signs of consistency in hacking out a 67-63 victory over Emilio Aguinaldo College on Monday night in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
“Yun talaga ang pinagdadasal ko,” Victolero said after his team won back-to back games following the opening setback.
Victolero, though, needed to wait until the second half to see the result as the Cardinals were still down by double digits at halftime. With Josan Nimes carrying the load on offense and Kenneth Ighalo anchoring the defense, the Cardinals heated up in the last two quarters and never looked back.
Trailing, 36-23, at the half, the Cardinals limited the Generals to just eight points in the third quarter to knot the count at 44 heading into the payoff period.
“I told them to settle down because we had too many lapses in the first half. Good thing they responded,” Victolero said.
Andoy Estrella’s triple to start the fourth quarter gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game and started an 8-0 run. Nimes took over from there as he scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth.
Ighalo finished with 13 points and an league season-high 23 caroms.
“Desire lang talaga,” Ighalo said of his herculean rebounding effort.
Cedric Happi Noube also had a double-double with 21 points and 11 boards for the Generals, but his performance went for naught as the squad fell to 1-3.
MAPUA 67 – Nimes 22, Ighalo 13, Parala 12, Banal 7, Estrella 6, Chien 4, Abad 3, Cantos 0, Stevens 0
EAC 63 – Happi Noube 21, Monteclaro 9, Chiong 9, Jamon 8, Tayongtong 7, Munsayac 5, Yaya 4, Paguia 0, King 0
Quarter scores: 8-15, 23-36, 44-44, 67-63