Mapua rode on the strong showing of Clint Escamis as it bested Lyceum of the Philippines University, 87-83, Saturday and seized the solo lead in Season 99 National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament at the Filoil EcoOil Arena.
Escamis flirted with another triple-double performance before winding up with 20 points, nine boards, seven assists and four steals as the Cardinals claimed the top spot with a 6-1 mark and unseated the Pirates, who sputtered to their second loss in a row and into No. 2 with a 6-2 slate.
Escamis did the heavy lifting in the clutch when he drained a triple and two foul shots that saved the day for a Mapua team eyeing its first title since going all the way 32 years ago.
Earlier, San Beda University registered a 74-70 win over Jose Rizal University.
Jacob Cortez once again dazzled for the Red Lions with 24 points, five rebounds and two assists as the Red Lions improved to a 4-2 win-loss record.
Cortez’s two free throws with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter capped a 5-0 run overturning a 69-70 deficit into a 74-70 win for San Beda, which played without head coach Yuri Escueta.
Escueta, also an assistant coach to the TNT Tropang Giga, served a one-game suspension after getting two technical fouls in the Lions’ 62-67 loss to the Pirates last Sunday.
According to San Beda assistant coach Andre Santos, this was a special win for the team as they prepared without Escueta, who joined the Tropang Giga in Japan for the East Asian Super League match against the Chiba Jets.
“It’s been a tough week. We were in unfamiliar territory with coach Yuri not around and it’s rare for us to train without him,” Santos said.
“So to have a full week without him, and play a tough JRU team without him, the emotions really raised. But I am really grateful that we got that win because we needed that win so badly.”
Peter Alfaro made 12 points for San Beda while Jomel Puno almost had a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Shawn Argente had 14 points but it wasn’t enough as the Heavy Bombers slid to fifth place with a 4-3 slate.