The Mapúa University Red Robins reclaimed the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Juniors Basketball Championship after taking Game 3 of the Finals series against the College of Saint Benilde Junior Blazers, 77-74, Thursday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Stepping up for the Red Robins, who played without injured team captain and Mythical Five member Clint Escamis, Finals Most Valuable Player Carl Hernandez recorded a career-high 33 points and 12 rebounds, while Dan Arches chipped in 22 points and five rebounds.
“I am very happy. We lacked manpower but were able to maintain that kind of intensity and energy. I would like to give credits to my players,” Head Coach Randy Alcantara told reporters in vernacular.
En route to Game 3, Mapúa had to win two do-or-die matchups. After their 69-74 loss in Game 1, where Escamis aggravated his injury in the left knee, the Red Robins forced a decider after winning Game 2 of the Finals, 85-76. Arches took charge for the Red Robins, registering 22 points and five rebounds. In the semifinals, second-seed Mapúa recovered in their second matchup against the San Beda Red Cubs, 75-67, after their 84-71 loss in Game 1.
The NCAA Season 94 crown is Mapúa’s second championship in the last three seasons and 22nd overall, joining San Beda University as the winningest team in the juniors division. It was also a great comeback for the Intramuros cagers as they avenged their last season’s Finals loss against the Junior Blazers.