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Sports

Cardinals soar to 5th in row vs Knights

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Nigerian Allwell Oraeme poured in 18 points and crashed the boards with 30 rebounds as amazing Mapua sustained its hot streak and upended frontrunning Letran, 82-77, to firm up its semifinal drive in NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.

Oraeme’s monster performance rubbed off to the rest of the Cardinals, who bucked the absence of suspended coach Atoy Co and the Knights’ sizzling start to seize control from the second quarter en route to victory.

It was Mapua’s first win over Letran since squeezing out a 63-60 triumph on Aug. 5, 2010. More importantly, it was the Cardinals’ fifth straight this season that further hiked their record to 9-5 and closer to the fourth-running Perpetual Help (9-4) with four games left in their elims round schedule.

“This is our longest streak under Atoy and we dedicate this win to him,” said Ed Cordero, who took over the job from Co, who served the first of his two-game suspension for unsportsmanlike act against Lyceum last week.

Mapua’s Visayan rookie guards JP Nieles and Darell Menina held their ground against their veteran counterparts and neutralized Letran’s full-court trapping in the second half.

Nieles, a native of Bacolod, fired a career-best 16 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, while Menina, who hails from Cebu, had 12 points, six assists, five boards and three steals.

Earlier, JRU banked on Tey Teodoro’s endgame heroics as it overcame an upset-conscious College of St. Benilde, 73-69, to keep its slim semis hopes alive.

Teodoro hit a free throw to give JRU a two-point cushion then stole off Travis Jonson to score on a wide-open lay-up to secure the Bombers’ eighth win in 14 games.

Teodoro finished with a team-high 17 points. 

“I told my players to treat our last games as do-or-die,” said JRU coach Vergel Meneses.

Jonathan Grey exploded with 34 points but suffered cramps in the stretch and failed to save the Blazers from falling to their 11th loss against three wins.

ACIRC

ATOY CO AND THE KNIGHTS

COLLEGE OF ST. BENILDE

ED CORDERO

JONATHAN GREY

LETRAN

MAPUA

NIELES AND DARELL MENINA

NIGERIAN ALLWELL ORAEME

PERPETUAL HELP

SAN JUAN CITY

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