MAPUA shrugged off opening game jitters and hammered out a nail-biting 74-71 victory over Jose Rizal University in NCAA Season 92 at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.
Allwell Oraeme came up big for the Cardinals, finishing with a double-double of 24 points and 17 rebounds while delivering some clutch plays in the end.
The reigning MVP’s putback with 2:35 to go gave the Cardinals a 73-69 lead they never relinquished.
CJ Isit and Andrew Estrella added 17 and 10 markers, respectively, for Mapua.
“All players showed a big heart, even though we didn’t play our usual game,” said Mapua coach Atoy Co. “I am happy because this is the first time we won in our opening game.”
The Heavy Bombers kept the game close and even took a 62-60 lead before the Cardinals broke away and regained control behind Almer Orquina and Oraeme.
But JRU guard Paolo Pontejos, who finished with 16 points on 1-of-4 shooting from the three-point area, retaliated with a breakaway layup to keep them within striking distance. Isit went on to wrap up the contest with a split from the foul line.
“It definitely feels good to win on opening day. Despite being fairly a young team, we were able to stick together and get the win,” said Isit.
Tey Teodoro contributed 13 points in a losing effort for JRU.