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Cardinals, Lions ready for winner-take-all Game 3

MANILA, Philippines – With the championship hanging on the balance, the San Beda Red Lions and the Mapua Cardinals are gunning for an all-out battle.

The two teams will try and bag the NCAA Season 99 men's basketball tournament championship Sunday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Cardinals seek their first title in 32 years, while the Red Lions eye to bag the championship once again since Javee Mocon, Donald Tankoua and Robert Bolick led them to a three-peat in 2018.

Clint Escamis, this season's Most Valuable Player, said the team needs to move on from its lapses in Game 2, which they lost, 71-65.

"A true champion faces adversity and [shows] how he comes back from it. So, this is our adversity, we lost game 2," Escamis told reporters in Filipino.

"And, we are not done yet. In Game 3, we will know who the true champion is. San Beda lost Game 1, and we lost Game 2," he added.

Escamis struggled mightily from the field for Mapua, shooting 4-of-21, but he still led the team with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists in Game 2.

There, Mapua led by five, 61-56, with 6:49 left in the game but went ice cold as San Beda's torrid offense forced the rubber match.

Usual suspects Warren Bonifacio and Paolo Hernandez also missed shot after shot for Cardinals.

"There were some lapses in the game, and our shots were just not falling. For us, we lost there," Escamis said.

"Even the close shots were not falling. But, that is the lapses of the game and they converted on their end. So, the fight is not yet done. We will see them in Game 3," he added.

San Beda's Jacob Cortez, meanwhile, will try to will his team into championship supremacy. He registered a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds in Game 2, where he took over late.

"We are staying focused because job is not finished. One more game, one game at a time," the guard told reporters.

San Beda coach Yuri Escueta added that they want to bring the same intensity they had in Game 2 for the winner-take-all match.

"It's a do-or-die game, so that will be the same as what we did [in Game 2]. I said, we will leave everything on the floor."