The Bleachers


Mapua University ended a three-decade-long finals drought in NCAA Season 97 after ousting San Beda University, 70-67, in their do-or-die game on Wednesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

/ 12 May 2022

For the first time since 1991, Mapua will be headed to the NCAA finals after shutting down San Beda and arranged a best-of-three finals date against unbeaten and defending champion Letran starting on Sunday.

It was a neck-and-neck match between the two that featured six deadlocks and seven lead changes, but Adrian Nocum found an opening with a triple to break the final breakdown that gave Mapua a 64-61 lead with 2:29 remaining.

San Beda quickly responded with JB Bahio and James Kwekuteye scoring consecutively to cut the deficit to one point for a 66-65 count, with 1:33 left in the clock.

Arvin Gamboa rushed for a tough layup over two Red Lions players with 33 seconds left to give the Cardinals a 68-65 edge but Ralph Penuela quickly scored an inbound play to make it a one-point game with 30.7 seconds left.

Forced to foul, the Red Lions sent Toby Agustin to the line wherein he scored the most important free throws of his career to go, 70-67.

The Red Lions had one more opportunity to tie the game, but Kwekuteye’s three-pointer came out short at the buzzer.

Arvin Gamboa delivered the clutch hits for the Cardinals with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds while Brian Lacap and Paolo Hernandez added 13 points and 11 points, respectively.

Yukien Andrada paced the Red Lions with 19 points, while Kwekuteye finished with 11 points, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

The scores:

Mapua (70) – Gamboa 13, Lacap 13, Hernandez 11, Bonifacio 8, Nocum 7, Agustin 6, Pido 6, Mercado 6, Salenga 0, Garcia 0.

San Beda (67) – Andrada 19, Kwekuteye 11, Alfaro 11, Bahio 9, Penuela 5, Abuda 3, Cuntapay 2, Cortez 2, Jopia 2, Amsali 2, Ynot 1, Sanchez 0.

Quarters:9-9; 27-24; 48-49; 70-67.