ALLWELL Oraeme had 18 points and a season-high 30 rebounds as Mapua extended its winning streak to five with an 82-77 victory over league-leader Letran on Tuesday in the NCAA Season 91 seniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Oraeme’s effort allowed the Cardinals to remain unbeaten in the second round and stay in the hunt for a Final Four after a courageous stand in the absence of head coach Atoy Co, who served the first of a two-match suspension.
With Ed Cordero calling the shots, Mapua won over Letran for the first time since 2010 to in fifth place with a9-5 win-loss card, just half a game behind fourth-running Perpetual Help's 9-4 card.
JP Nieles, Justin Serrano, and Darrell Menina also dished off big games for the Cardinals, combining for 16 of Mapua’s 20 points in the final quarter to hold off a rallying Letran side.
Menina’s layup gave the Cardinals their biggest margin, 58-41, in the third period where the Cardinals outscored the Knights, 26-11.
“Going into the second round, coach Atoy told the boys that if we work hard, with a team that is unselfish, there is something bigger for us. And for every game, I think we are improving,” said Cordero.
Mapua also maintained a one-game lead over Jose Rizal University (8-6) in the standings despite the Heavy Bombers’ victory in the first game against College of Saint Benilde.
“I think this is the longest streak as far as coach Atoy and myself are concerned,” Cordero added.
Letran remained in first place with an 11-3 card but is now just half a game ahead of San Beda (10-3).
Mark Cruz had 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting from three-point range for the Knights, who only had eight rebounds more than Oraeme’s personal output. Letran also lost despite Mapua having more turnovers, 35-21.
Mapua (82) — Oraeme 18, Nieles 16, Serrano 14, Menina 12, Que 6, Nimes 5, Aguirre 4, Brana 4, Biteng 3, Raflores 0.
Letran (77) — Cruz 17, Racal 16, Nambatac 15, Apreku 6, Balanza 5, Quinto 4, Luib 2, Bernabe 0, Gedaria 0.
Quarterscores: 16-25, 42-36, 62-49, 82-77.