The JRU Heavy Bombers are back in the NCAA Final Four.
After missing out the previous year, the Vergel Meneses-mentored team is back in the postseason after they defeated the Mapua Cardinals, 62-58, on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Teytey Teodoro put up 19 points while Jed Mendoza added 10 points and three assists in the win.
Even though the Heavy Bombers clinched a playoff berth, coach Vergel Meneses wasn’t satisfied with his team’s performance.
“Honestly I’m not happy about the win. They don’t want to follow instructions, they thought we can beat them all on offense. Ayun nga nangyari,” he expressed.
Mapua came into the ball game coming off back-to-back wins, but they were already carrying 12 losses. Meneses was hoping that his boys would take the fight out of the Cardinals, but the Heavy Bombers failed to capitalize.
Andoy Estrella, who finished with only eight points on 1-for-11 shooting, made it into a two-point game, 58-56, with less than five minutes remaining with a pair of free throws. Mapua was gaining ground, but Mendoza and Ervin Grospe put out the fire with back-to-back baskets. The Heavy Bombers were able to hold on thanks to their defense.
JRU joins the San Beda Red Lions and Lyceum Pirates as the three teams who are already in the coveted Final Four.
“Well I think compare ng last year ko and ngayon is leadership ni Gio (Lasquety) and John Grospe,” commended Meneses about his team. “The way they practice, talagang nagra-rub off sa players.”
JRU still has one game left on their schedule, but it won’t be an easy task as they will face the still-undefeated Pirates this Friday, October 13.
In the second game, the Arellano Chiefs kept their playoff hopes alive after beating the San Sebastian Stags, 85-79.
Kent Salado led the Chiefs with 22 points, but wasn’t able to finish the last eight minutes of the game after RK Illagan accidentally landed on his right leg.
Even though Salado went down, the rest of the Chiefs were able to hold on thanks to the efforts of Michael Canete and Levi Dela Cruz.
After an Alfren Gayosa triple that made it into a six-point affair, Canete converted on a tough dipsy-doo layup that kept the Stags at bay. Canete finished with 15 points. Dela Cruz meanwhile stood his ground manning the point guard duties for the Salado-less Chiefs and he ended up with 10 points.
The Stags continued to threatened late in the game, but Zach Nicholls buried a huge triple with 50.7 seconds left.
“Nung three quarters it was laid down by Kent, hindi lang naman siya, pero we already had a good start,” coach Jerry Codinera said with how they managed without Salado. “It’s up to the others nalang and it’s high time for them to know how to close it without Kent.”
The Chiefs now have an identical record with the Stags at 7-9 and are right behind the Letran Knights who have an 8-8 slate.
Both the Chiefs and the Stags have two important assignments left on their schedule as both of them will have to face the Perpetual Help Altas and Mapua Cardinals.
JRU 62 – Teodoro 19, Mendoza 10, Sawat 9, Grospe 8, Lasquety 6, Bordon 4, Abdulrazak 2, Poutouochi 2, David 2, Dela Virgen 0.
MAPUA 58 – Orquina 14, Pelayo 11, Bunag 10, Victoria 8, Estrella 8, Raflores 6, Aguirre 1, Gabo 0, Jimenez 0.
Quarters: 21-17, 36-32, 52-47, 62-58
ARELLANO 85 – Salado 22, Cañete 15, Dela Cruz 10, Nicholls 9, Viloria 8, Abanes 6, Flores 4, Meca 4, Alcoriza 3, Concepcion 2, Enriquez 2, Taywan 0.
SAN SEBASTIAN 79 – Bulanadi 14, Ilagan 14, Calma 12, Gayosa 9, Navarro 9, Calisaan 7, Capobres 7, Costelo 3, David 2, Mercado 2, Baetiong 0, Quipse 0, Valdez 0.
Quarters: 20-19, 38-33, 60-52, 85-79