A back and forth duel between these two teams made for a tense fourth quarter, as both sides continued to exchange the lead late in the game. Off their last timeout, the Cardinals went to Yousef Taha who scored on a fade-away shot down low, tying things at 70-all. Using their last timeout, Arellano went to Vergel Zulueta who missed on his drive, giving the ball back to Mapua. Timely usage of their fouls to give forced MIT to inbound with seconds to go, but on the last deadball, the Cardinals inserted Allan Mangahas, who was unaffected by his long cooling period riding the pine in the fourth. "The Snake" caught the inbounds from Jonathan Banal and calmly launched a triple that connected, winning the game for his team, 73-70. (Recap here)
What's at Stake:
- Tied with the JRU Heavy Bombers as both teams sport 7-9 records, anything Mapua can get to build separation will be vital in the battle for the fourth seed in the standings.
- The Arellano Chiefs are out of the running with a 5-11 record (mathematically they're alive, but the scenario they need requires everyone ahead of them losing), and so will have to be content with playing spoiler against a team that escaped on the last possession in their first round encounter.
MIT Player to Watch : Yousef Taha helped dominate the Arellano interior, to the tune of 17 points and 15 rebounds, but the big man turned it over a season-high nine times in the process. The Cardinals will likely turn to him once more, but better post positioning and entry passes from the MIT guards could go a long way to curing Taha's butter fingers.
AU Player to Watch : With Andrian Celada catching fire once again, Vergel Zulueta has taken a backseat in terms of scoring, failing to go over 10 points in two out of the last three games (Just six points versus JRU and two against San Beda). Obviously, having both of them making shots is the ideal, but he can also fill the role of decoy, what with his average of 2.6 assists.
Prediction: MIT Cardinals