John Cedrick Abis fired a clutch three-pointer with 26.1 seconds left to lift Perpetual past Mapua and escape with a 79-77 win in the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball tournament Friday, Sept. 23, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.

Kim Aurin of Perpetual (NCAA/GMA)

Abis’ go-ahead triple from top of the key against the defense of Paolo Hernandez was all it took for the Altas to regain their composure en route to an even 2-2 record.

Adrian Nocum and Warren Bonifacio tried to salvage a point for the Cardinals but missed both their attempts as the Altas clamped down on their defense to force a costly shotclock violation with 1.8 seconds left.

Time is on the Perpetual side as Kim Aurin, who led all scorers with 18 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, just had to pass the ball over to Abis to secure the win.

Jelo Razon also hammered down 15 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, Marcus Nitura had 13 points, while Abis finished with 11 points, including the game-winning triple, along with six rebounds for the Altas.

“‘Yong tira kanina parang God’s gift.. Kasi akalain mo naman ba na ma-shoot ni Abis ‘yon. Saka sabi ko naman sa player ko, magdasal tayo ng taimtim kasi yan, anything can happen basta meron faith don sa taas,” said Perpetual head coach Myk Saguiguit.

“‘Yong last play na ‘yon actually kay Kim ‘yon. Pero ganda ng focus nung bata (Abis) kaya nabigay sa kanya yung tira na ‘yon.”

Aurin spearheaded Perpetual’s run in the fourth quarter after Mapua, who was trailing closely in the previous period, tried to claw its way back and put the match within striking distance.

Jopet Soriano responded and took charge in the Cardinals’ 10-3 run before Bonifacio finished their spurt to regain the 77-76 lead.

Abis came in spoiling the party from that point on despite the play being originally designed for Aurin.

Arvin Gamboa paced the Cardinals, who fell to 1-3 record, with 12 points, Paolo Hernandez and Soriano chipped in 11 points apiece while Nocum and Bonifacio had 10 points each. ###

The Scores:

PERPETUAL 79 — Aurin 18, Razon 15, Nitura 13, Abis 11, Roque 9, Omega 9, Flores 4, Barcuma 0, Martel 0, Cuevas 0, Orgo 0, Nunez 0.

MAPUA 77 — Gamboa 12, Hernandez 11, Soriano 11, Nocum 10, Bonifacio 10, Pido 9, Lacap 8, Garcia 4, Cuenco 2, Agustin 0, Mercado 0.

Quarters: 20-24, 38-41, 60-55, 79-77.

Source: Manila Bulletin (