A HALFTIME pep talk by the Mapua coaching staff brought the Cardinals back to life on the way to their first win in the NCAA Season 91 basketball tournament.
The Cardinals overcame a 79-86 fourth-quarter deficit against San Sebastian behind a closing 9-0 run powered by Josan Nimes, Allwell Oraeme, and CJ Isit.
They won, 88-86.
Mapua star Josan Nimes said they stepped it up a notch on defense following a halftime talk with the coaching staff led by Atoy Co. The Cardinals were down at that point, 50-41.
“We got in trouble at halftime. Our coaches were in our ass,” said Nimes.
A tougher defense paid dividends for Mapua, which held San Sebastian scoreless in the last two-and-a-half minutes of the game.
Leading the defense for Mapua was Allwell Oraeme, who had five blocks to go along with his double-double of 15 points and 22 rebounds. The Cardinals also had more steals, 6-3, and blocks, 7-5.
“It feels really good because everybody knows the first win is always the hardest to get,” said Nimes.
Nimes also acknowledged the defensive play of point guard CJ Isit and Andretti Stevens, who, after missing most of the first half, had two big steals.
“Andretti, he really didn’t play in the first half but he did a good job on their guards because they were always penetrating. He sparked our defense and we got more stops in the second half."
Nimes said Isit’s presence also is a big lift to the team.
“He is one of our leaders. He takes a lot of pressure on our guards. He is familiar with the situation, the toughness of the NCAA. He brings a lot. He is like the extension of the coach,” said Nimes.