By Joey Villar (philstar.com)
MANILA, Philippines – For someone who had endured being buried by as much as 120 points and as low as 40 points in his winless rookie season as a coach eight years ago, Mapua mentor Randy Alcantara has gone a long way.
Now, Alcantara and his overachieving Red Robins are on top of the world.
Showing the killer instinct it lacked in Game Two, Mapua finished off San Beda this time, hammering out an 84-67 victory on Friday to complete a 2-1 series victory and ending a 16-year title drought in the 92nd NCAA junior basketball tournament at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
Brian Lacap led his team by firing 16 points while Clint Escamis celebrated his 16th birthday by dropping 14 points to help seal Mapua its first championship since a Horacio Lim-coached team won it all 16 years ago while ending San Beda’s seven-year reign.
It was also Mapua’s 20th championship overall, just two behind San Beda’s league-best 22 crowns.
It was Alcantara’s first championship as a coach although he already won two NCAA titles being part of the Mapua team that won a back-to-back in the 1990-91 seasons.
Bryan Samudio, playing his final season, scattered 13 points including eight in the fourth quarter, enough to clinch him the Finals MVP trophy.
Mapua also avenged its finals loss to San Beda two years ago when the former came a win away from securing the crown after winning the opener only to lose the final two games.
It was over midway in the final period when the Robins quashed repeated rallies by the Cubs.
When it ended, the Robins and their fans celebrated frantically on the court while Alcantara could only smile to himself after enduring some hardships in his early years.
“It was hard at first because people laughed at us whenever we enter the venue because they thought we were an elementary team,” said Alcantara. “I also remembered when I first conducted a tryout, my team looked like a quiz bee team. They had to remove their eyeglasses before playing.”
Alcantara said they were just totally destroyed in that season.
“We never won a game on my first year. We were trailing 120 points to La Salle-Greenhills and they were still trapping us. The closest of our losses was when we were beaten by just 40 points by Perpetual Help,” said Alcantara.
“San Beda beat us by 80 points but they did platoon substitution every time.
“But I learned to be patience and work harder and I told myself I’ll get back at them someday and I’m very thankful we’re here now,” he added.
Truly, it was worth the wait.
Mapua 84 – Lacap 16, Escamis 14, Samudio 13, Garcia 12, Salenga 11, Bonifacio 10, Junsay 5, Gozum 3, Ramos 0
San Beda 67 – Obenza 14, Velasquez 14, Mahinay 11, Abu Hijleh 10, Alfaro 4, Nayve 4, Tagala 3, Nelle 3, Dela Rosa 2, Lagumen 2, Etrata 0
QUARTER SCORES: 24-13, 38-24, 52-40, 84-67