MANILA, Philippines – Jose Rizal, 59-56, escaped from a last-ditch rally on Friday to join the early leaders after winning two games of NCAA Season 97 men’s basketball at the Greenhills Gym in Mapua La Salle.
Cardinal Warren Bonifacio smashed two free throws in 8.7 seconds in the final which limited a 10-5 blast starting in the last three minutes.
“I’m dedicating this game to the Mapua community. We want to do makeup for last year when we didn’t make it to the final four,” said Benifacio, who scored 13 points, to Filipinos. “We hope this is the year of our revenge.”
Mapua thus joined San Beda and Latran at the top of the standings but the Cardinals had to go through the ringer against the heavy bombers (1-1).
Led by Toby Augustine and Paolo Hernandez, Mapua led the way for most of the first half. But the Cardinals suddenly noticed that they were lagging behind in the fourth quarter for the bombers to return at a slower pace.
Chester Janko hit a jumper to give JRU a 53-52 lead. But Adrain Nocum fired a jumper and Hernandez gave a triple nail to the 57-53 Mapua cushion in the final 1:10.
But Marvin Dionicio hit a three-pointer in the final 18 seconds for the Bombers ’final stand 56-57, before Benfacio pushed Mapua safely through his two charities.
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