Veteran cager Laurenz Victoria joined hands with rookies Warren Bonifacio and Eric Jabel as the Mapua Cardinals routed the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 72-60, yesterday at the latter’s own home turf—the JRU gymnasium in Mandaluyong.
Victoria, a three-year veteran of the team, knocked in 11 points and had seven rebounds for the Cardinals, who posted their first win in the 94th National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament.
The 6’5” Bonifacio, one of the Cardinals’ six key newcomers who came from their talented high school squad, banged 10 points. He then helped Victoria control the boards with nine rebounds, while Jabel, another former Red Robin, shot nine points and had five rebounds.
The performance of the Cardinals impressed coach Atoy Co, who took the pains of rebuilding the core of the team with members of their junior squad and with the help of the coaching staff.
“Overall, I’m happy we were able to do what we practiced. JRU pressed, they kept on scoring. Nabigla kami sa halfcourt nila. Pero na-overcome namin,” said Co as the Cardinals joined the defending champion San Beda Red Lions and the Lyceum Pirates in the early lead.
Veteran Cedric Pelayo made eight points with Justin Serrano and Exequiel Biteng.
Pelayo scored two of three charities in the last 7:19 of the third to help hand the Cards a 60-53 lead. His presence and driving shots in the remaining 5:16 later allowed the Cards to keep their seven-point cushion intact, 65-58.
Jabel’s trey with 1:45 left in the third gave the Cardinals a chance to widen their edge, 70-60.
RJ David shot 12 points for the Heavy Bombers while Jed Mendoza added 11.
Meanwhile, the Jose Rizal Light Bombers caught the Malayan High School of Science Red Robins on a bad day and pulled off an 80-70 upset in junior action.
Six-foot Marvin Dionisio showed the way with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Light Bombers, who joined the San Sebastian Staglets and the University of Perpetual Help Junior Altas in the early lead.
“All game long, naglaro ang mga bata na may puso. Gusto nilang manalo,” said Red Robins coach Vic Lazaro.
This is the Light Bombers’ second win over the Red Robins following their 94-82 triumph in the first round last season.
The Light Bombers are getting ready for a showdown with the San Beda Red Cubs in their next game next week.