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Clint pays Cards back

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF NCAA Clint Escamis shows why he is Mapua’s main man in Season 99 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Clint Escamis’ stellar run in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 99 men’s basketball tournament is just his way of repaying the trust given to him by Mapua University.

The Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player award frontrunner said he remains grateful for the Cardinals, who took him after transferring from the University of the East.

Escamis torched the nets with 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had four feeds and two steals when the Intramuros-based squad eliminated last year’s finalist College of Saint Benilde, 78-76, in their Final Four encounter last Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Escamis simply can’t wait to showcase his talent as Mapua is still waiting for the survivor of the do-or-die matchup involving San Beda University and Lyceum of the Philippines University which takes place Friday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Escamis, a standout of the Mapua Red Robins, revealed that there were several schools that wanted to sign him up after leaving the Warriors’ camp.

But in the end, he chose the Cardinals, reuniting with head coach Randy Alcantara and juniors teammates Paolo Hernandez and Warren Bonifacio.

“If I was going to switch schools, I would go to those who I trust and trust me. It’s hard to experiment and start from square one again,” said Escamis, who won two NCAA juniors titles.

“They gambled on me. Knowing them from high school, I’m thankful for the opportunity I was given, especially in the position where I am today.”

Escamis also watched Mapua’s championship bid in Season 97 and admitted he wanted to help out the team immediately.

The 23-year-old guard had to wait one year before suiting up for Mapua.

“I really wanted to help the team back then. I watched their semifinals match against San Beda and Game 1 against Letran College,” Escamis said.

Escamis did not disappoint in his first year in the NCAA, leading the league in scoring with an average of 16.28, fourth in assists with 4.22 and first in steals with 3.78.

Alcantara, who was part of the last Mapua squad to win an NCAA title in the seniors division in 1991, said Escamis has been a positive impact for the squad.

“Clint and I talked back then and if he’s going to come back, we need to have a goal and not just come back for the sake of it. We all saw how the team changed. He was one of the leaders with Paolo (Hernandez) and (Warren) Bonifacio,” Alcantara said.

Blazers big man and reigning MVP Will Gozum has nothing but praise for his former teammate in the juniors division.

“He deserves to be the MVP because he’s different. He puts his best foot forward and he’s still a rookie so there’s a lot of things in store for him,” said Gozum, who won an NCAA juniors title with Escamis in 2016.

“I’m proud to have teamed up with him before.”

Regardless of which team makes it to the title series, Escamis will be a marked man.


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