MANILA, Philippines -- Jose Rizal University (JRU) continued its ascent as it downed La Salle Greenhills, 63-62, to claim the solo lead in the juniors division of the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Mark dela Virgen paced his team with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Andrei Dada scored 16 as the Light Bombers continued their giant-slaying ways, adding the Greenies, last year's losing finalist, to their list of victims.
JRU has now beaten the top three teams last season after it defeated five-peat champion San Beda and last season's third placer San Sebastian, underscoring its serious title intentions.
"We showed heart, that's what is carrying us," said Jose Rizal coach Nat Gregorio, who is hoping to steer the Kalentong-based dribblers to their first title since 1977.
Darious Estrella, who scored the game-winner in JRU's sensational win over San Beda, did most of the dirty work as he finished with seven points, nine caroms, a season-best seven blocks, two steals and an assist.
The Light Bombers had to rely on a four-point cushion and their defense to overcome a dry spell in the last two minutes.
Michael dela Cruz led the Greenies with 22 points while Amand San Juan chipped in 17 but came short in the end to pull off a come-from-behind win to fall to their first loss in two outings.