By Jerome Lagunzad
Games Tuesday (The Arena, San Juan City)
12 noon — Perpetual vs San Beda (Jrs)
2 p.m. — Perpetual vs San Beda (Srs)
4 p.m. — St. Benilde vs JRU (Srs)
6 p.m. — St. Benilde vs JRU (Jrs)
Good things happen to Jose Rizal University whenever the Heavy Bombers are willing to play lockdown defense.
Such was the case yesterday when JRU stifled Perpetual Help early on and cruised to a morale-boosting 85-52 victory to boost its Final Four drive in the 93rd NCAA seniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Mark Dela Virgen showed the way with 18 points and eight assists, matching the Altas’ entire output, while Cameroon big man Adboul Poutouochi had 16 points and four other Heavy Bombers, including top gunner Teytey Teodoro, scored at least eight each.
Its suffocating defense, however, spelled the key for JRU as it made life miserable for struggling Perpetual Help, with the heavy Bombers limiting the Altas to just five points in the opening frame – the lowest output in any quarter this season so far.
“It’s our defense which proved to be the key. Good defense translated to good offense,” admitted JRU coach Vergel Meneses, clearly impressed with how his wards completed a season-sweep of the Altas following a 68-54 win in their first-round meeting last July 14.
The wire-to-wire victory enabled the Heavy Bombers to stop a two-game losing skid, improve their record to 8-6 and tighten their hold of the third spot with four matches to spare.
Nigerian big man Prince Eze emerged as the lone bright spot with 23 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks for the Altas, who suffered their third straight loss and dropped to 4-9 overall, their semis hopes getting slimmer.
Although the Heavy Bombers put themselves back on track, Meneses admitted their immediate task is far from done.
“We have to stay focused. We’re not yet in (the Final Four). Anything can happen, every game counts,” he stressed.
“We cant be complacent, We should be worried about our team. Gawin lang namin ang trabaho namin.”
And that’s precisely what the Heavy Bombers readily did against the Altas, holding them down to just a nine-point output in the first 15 minutes of play while already breaking the game wide open.
JRU 85 – Dela Virgen 18, Poutouochi 16, Mendoza 12, Grospe 8, David 8, Teodoro 8, Lasquety 6, Abdul Razak 5, Bordon 2, Mariano 2, Mate 0, Pontejos 0, Sibangan 0, Sawat 0.
Perpetual 52 – Eze 23, Pido 8, Sadiwa 8, Tamayo 3, Mangalino 3, Hao 3, Coronel 2, Ylagan 2, Dagangon 0, Casas 0, Clemente 0, Singontiko 0, Yuhico 0, Lucente 0.
Quarters: 17-5, 39-15, 64-39, 85-52.