Escamis Clint Escamis knows that it is time for Mapua to end a long men’s basketball championship drought. NCAA-GMA photo

Escamis powers Mapua to victory

December 7, 2023 Theodore P. Jurado 285 views

CLINT Escamis was clutch as Mapua subdued San Beda, 68-63, to move on the brink of claiming its first NCAA men’s basketball title in 32 years at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Battled cramps starting midway in the third canto, Escamis had enough gas in the tank to drain a booming triple and two pressure-packed free throws late that helped seal the Cardinals’ Game 1 win.

“End or gitna ng third quarter, nag suffer ako ng cramps, minanage ko time ko, sa fourth quarter dun ko binuhos,” said Escamis, who finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three steals.

Mapua goes for the jugular in Game 2 at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the same Pasay venue.

The Cardinals also made life difficult for Jacob Cortez, who had only 12 points after a scoreless first half, and the Red Lions’ shooters, who were held to just five triples out of the 32 attempts they took.

It was in stark contrast to San Beda’s 13 three-pointers they drained in each of their two Final Four wins over Lyceum of the Philippines University that sealed a 15th Finals appearance in the last 17 seasons.

Mapua is almost there, now one win closer to ending a long title drought and claiming their first men’s crown since going all the way in 1991 and seventh title overall.

Graduating forward Warren Bonifacio, who spoke on behalf of coach Randy Alcantara, who apologetically begged off from the customary post-game media interview after feeling dizzy late in the game, was happy that the Cardinals fend off the Red Lions’ outside shooting.

“Alam naman natin San Beda is deadly sa three points,” said Mapua captain.

“Ilang araw din kami nag-practice takbuhan at close out sa three points nila, buti maganda naging resulta sa game,” he added.

Bonifacio warned that the Red Lions will not just roll over and die.

“We’re glad nakuha first game in the series, pero hindi naman dun natatapos, job’s not done yet,” said Bonifacio.

“Alam naman namin babawi San Beda sa Game 2, kailangang maging ready lang kami,” he added.

The scores:

Mapua (68) – Escamis 18, Hernandez 16, Rosillo 15, Bonifacio 15, Bonifacio 6, Recto 5, Cuenco 4, Soriano 4, Fornis 0, Dalisay 0.
San Beda (63) – Payosing 14, Puno 12, Cortez 12, Andrada 8, Jopia 8, Tagle 5, Cuntapay 2, Visser 2, Alfaro 0, Gonzales 0, Royo 0, Gallego 0.
Quarterscores: 17-17; 36-31; 59-48; 68-63

Games Sunday

(Mall of Asia Arena)
9 a.m. – Benilde vs LPU (Battle for third)
12:30 p.m. – Awarding Ceremony
2 p.m. – San Beda vs Mapua (Finals, Game 2)