Cellar-dweller Mapua beats San Beda
MANILA, Philippines – For Mapua coach Atoy Co, beating a powerhouse team in San Beda is like winning three times.
Summoning the unusual spirit and mustering the extraordinary strength never before seen, Mapua accomplished what others had a hard time doing as it shocked heavily favored San Beda, 81-76, to shake things up in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City Monday.
Jessie Saitanan, a 19-year-old sophomore from Cavite, fired 18 points on an impressive 9-of-12 shooting clip, including a barrage of midrange jumpers in a key run in the fourth quarter that sealed the Cardinals only their second win against 14 defeats.
Co, one of the PBA's greatest players who dipped his hand in collegiate coaching this season, however, thinks it was more than just one win.
"Winning against San Beda is a triple bonus," said Co in Filipino.
"We fought and we lost is already a bonus. Winning makes us doubly happy. Beating San Beda makes us triple happy," he added.
The Lions fell to their third defeat against 13 wins.
But this particular one hurts the most as it didn't only come against a team that occupies the cellar and wasn't even in the Final Four race but also prevented San Beda from clinching one of the two twice-to-beat advantages.
The Lions, however, have two chances to do what it failed to accomplish against the Cardinals as they play the Arellano U Chiefs next week and the Letran Knights, who are now just half a game behind with a 12-3 (win-loss) card, in two weeks.
This one victory was a much-needed reprieve for Mapua, which finally put a stop to a miserable 13-game losing streak. It started the season with a loss to Jose Rizal and a win over San Sebastian, 104-99, last July 1.