Although it didn't show in the rebounding category, the Mapua Cardinals sorely missed 6'7" Yousef Taha in this game. Despite a 54-35 rebounding advantage, the Cardinals were suckered into playing the style the Blazers wanted, hoisting up 41 triples in the face of the CSB zone, making just eight. And when the time came for Mapua to make a trey to force overtime, Josan Nimes, after much dilly-dallying, missed, allowing Benilde to escape with the win. Big man Jan Tan led CSB with 15 markers, while Allan Mangahas' double-double of 10 points and 12 assists went wasted. (Recap here)
What's at Stake:
- The Cardinals wrapped up a highly successful summer with a lot of hype as a dark horse team to challenge San Beda and San Sebastian for NCAA supremacy. Instead, what happened was a disappointing 3-6 first round, with two of their three wins decided by buzzer-beaters. If the Cardinals are to live up to the expectations they set in the off-season, they need to start winning, and winning convincingly.
- The Blazers find themselves in the thick of things at 4-5, tied with guest team Lyceum for the fourth playoff spot. This might be the latest Benilde has been in a playoff hunt in a very long time, given the past failures of this program, but this whole thing will be a forgotten footnote in history if they flame out in the second round.
MIT Player to Watch : Josan Nimes got a career-high 21 points against the zone defense of Perpetual Help, not by chucking up shots, but by being the only one willing to attack the rim. If Nimes can keep that attitude alive in this game, then odds are good that the Blazers will be forced to abandon the zone and put someone like Paolo Taha on him, or else risk him going off for 20+ points again.
CSB Player to Watch : Against the EAC Generals, Jonathan Grey got extended minutes due to Jan Tan being ejected from the game. Because Tan will have to sit out a one-game suspension, Grey will likely see additional time again, and why not, after he posted 17 points and 12 rebounds in Tan's absence. Grey is so adept at scoring that he actually leads his team in field goal percentage at 58 percent, which means he ought to have a field day against the so-so Mapua defense.
Prediction: MIT Cardinals