San Beda forces decider for NCAA finals spot, clips Mapua in OT

James Kwekuteye. NCAA PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines-San Beda University refused to buckle under pressure, stretching its Final Four campaign to the limit with a gutsy 73-67 overtime triumph over Mapua on Sunday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

James Kwekuteye played through a sprained ankle and scattered 17 points, including a string of crucial shots in the extra period that fueled the Red Lions’ dazzling finishing kick.

The Lions clawed their way back on the timely incursions of Ralph Penuela, Peter Alfaro and Kwekuteye to finally take control after falling by as many as 10 points halfway through the final period.

Warren Bonifacio kept the Cardinals in the thick of the fight with a couple of mid-range jumpers off broken plays before Brian Lacap split his charities with 8.4 ticks left for a 60-58 Mapua edge.

With time running out, Kwekuteye then raced the length of the court and received a pass near the rim where his shot rattled out.

Good thing Penuela was sprinting right behind him and tied the count that kept the Lions alive in regulation. Hernandez couldn’t get a clear view on the other end and saw their potential game-winner missed the target.

The Lions and the Cardinals meet one last time this season in a do-or-die affair on Wednesday.

San Beda 73– Kwekuteye 17, Cortez 13, Penuela 13, Bahio 9, Alfaro 9, Cometa 3, Jopia 2, Sanchez 2, Abuda 2, Amsali 2, Gallego 1, Cuntapay 0, Andrada 0, Fornis 0, Ynot 0.

Mapua 67 — Bonifacio 18, Hernandez 14, Lacap 12, Nocum 9, Agustin 5, Salenga 4. Gamboa 4, Garcia 1, Pido 0, Asuncion 0, Mercado 0.

Quarters: 6-12, 25-25, 33-41, 60-60, 73-67

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