WITH the game in the bag, Joseph Eriobu decided to uncork one last shot, a running triple from way beyond the arc to beat the buzzer.
The Mapua forward flashed a wide a grin and raised his arms as his shot went in.
The hoop gods continued to smile on the Cardinals on Friday when they turned back Lyceum, 76-65, in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Leaning on another balanced attack, the Cardinals thus notched back-to-back victories and their third overall in 13 games to surpass their win total last year.
It was also the first time the Cardinals to get out of the cellar after supplanting San Sebastian in ninth spot, while dealing the Pirates their fourth straight loss and eighth overall against five wins.
“Dati minamaliit kami, problema lang, no team will take us for granted now,” Cardinals coach Atoy Co said.
The PBA great squeezed the most out of a short, eight-man rotation as all but two scored at least seven points.
CJ Isit shone brightest as he put up another all-around game of 17 points, 11 boards, five assists, one steal, and one block. The lefty playmaker also buried two triples, the second proving to be the dagger that gave the Cardinals a 65-55 lead midway through fourth quarter.
Fellow point guard Leo Gabo added 17 markers, four assists, three steals, and two rebounds, while Eriobu finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 caroms, on top of two steals.
MIT 76 – Isit 17, Gabo 17, Eriobu 12, Biteng 11, Cantos 8, Estrella 7, Saitanan 4, Villasenor 0
LPU 65 – Mbida 13, Maconocido 12, Zamora 9, Gabayni 9, Soliman 8, Bulawan 6, Taladua 5, Malabanan 2, Lesmoras 1, Pamulaklakin 0, Elmejrab 0
Quarterscores: 15-15, 29-29, 54-49, 76-65