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Cardinals aching to end long wait

MANILA, Philippines — For the second time in the last three years, Mapua takes a shot at a first NCAA championship in more than three decades against a San Beda side seriously intent of resurrecting its dynastic days in today’s start of their Season 99 best-of-three title duel at the MOA Arena.

The Cardinals are bent on replicating their magnificence in the elimination round, where they went a league-best 15-3, and in the Final Four, where they smashed the St. Benilde Blazers, as they battle the Lions in the opener of their championship face-off at 2 p.m.

The top seeds’ ultimate goal is to end a 32-year championship drought and give the Intramuros-based school its first crown since 1991 and seventh overall.

“Focus muna sa Game 1,” said Mapua coach Randy Alcantara, who happened to be part of that last champion team by the Cardinals.

Alcantara will be gunning for his first title as a coach in the seniors division to add to his accomplishments consisting of two NCAA juniors title as a coach and two seniors championships as a player including that unforgettable one in 1991 that proved to be their last.

And the Cardinals are bent on ending the excruciating wait this year.

“We’re focused on helping coach (Alcantara) as well as the whole Mapua community win the title,” said Mapua gunner Paolo Hernandez.