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Mapua Inches Closer to NCAA Championship, Fends off San Beda in Game 1

MANILA, Philippines–Clint Escamis and Paolo Hernandez are on the verge of securing the NCAA Season 99 men’s basketball crown for the Mapua Cardinals. The duo played a significant role in the Cardinals’ 68-63 win against the San Beda Red Lions. Escamis, the tournament’s projected rookie-MVP, delivered 18 points, including crucial free throws in the dying seconds. On the other hand, Hernandez contributed 16 points. Together, they are reviving Mapua’s hope for their first championship title in 32 years.

With the Cardinals narrowly ahead, 66-63, Jacob Cortez failed to convert a long-range shot in the final seconds. This resulted in San Beda fouling Escamis, who made his free throws to clinch the victory for Mapua, as envisioned by coach Randy Alcantara. San Beda’s efforts were led by James Payosing, Jomel Puno, and Jacob Cortez, but their struggle to score consistently from three-point range worked to the Cardinals’ advantage.

Game 2 of the finals is scheduled for Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.