AFTER a 16-year wait, the Mapua Red Robins finally got past the defending champion San Beda Red Cubs, 84-67, to snatch the junior crown Friday in the 92nd National Collegiate Athletic Association junior basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
This time around, they took charge in the first two quarters and put the Red Cubs in an unfamiliar situation of being behind all throughout the game.
The Red Robins sustained their momentum in the last two periods and continued to frustrate the Red Cubs with their firm grip on the lead as they finally put an end to their foes’ eight-year reign.
“Nagising kami after Game 2. Sa third quarter, 32 points ang binigay namin. Maganda ang simula namin at nakakapit kami sa third. Sinabi ko sa mga bata na huwag bibitaw sa depensa,” said Red Robins’ coach Randy Alcantara.
Brian Lacap tallied a game-high 16 points for the Red Robins, including a triple and jumper in the last seven minutes of the third period. Lacap and Warren Bonifacio led a 9-0 blast that gave the Red Robins a 25-point lead, 47-24.
Clint Escamis gave himself a fitting birthday present a day after his 16th birthday as he chipped in 14 points, including two charities in an 11-4 run in the first half sending the Red Robins to a 24-13 first quarter edge.
Finals’ MVP Brian Samudio drilled in 13 points, making eight in the last period, including a driving shot and a three-point play in the final 8:23 that kept them up by 14, 57-43.
He kept a keen eye on Red Cubs’ big man Germy Mahinay, who fouled out in the remaining five minutes, with Mapua up by 15, 63-48.
The Red Cubs, who were champions from 2009 to 2015, were put in an unfamiliar situation of being behind in the first period and felt pressured and frustrated at having to play catch up.
“Na-pressure ang mga bata. We were flat the whole game. I was expecting a closer game because this is a deciding game. Pero, the whole game, we were trying to catch up. May run kami. May sagot sila,” said Red Cubs coach JB Sison.
Carlo Obenza led the Red Cubs with 14 points, while Addie Velasquez also had 14, and Mahinay added 11.
The Red Robins made do with the absence of point guard Mike Enriquez, who suffered a recurring foot injury in Game 2 when the Red Cubs won 81-78.
The Red Robins took Game 1 with an 83-64 win.