MANILA, Philippines – Sweet-shooting guard Philip Paniamogan unleashed a 14-point barrage in the fourth quarter to carry the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Bombers to a 69-60 victory over the Letran Knights in the 90th NCAA men's basketball tournament Monday at the San Juan Arena.
In an eventful game that saw Letran coach Caloy Garcia get thrown out, it was Paniamogan who came through with clutch shots to lift JRU into the upper half of the league standings over last season's losing finalist.
After scoring just one point in the first half, Paniamogan found his range in the second, scoring 21 of his 22 points including 14 in a critical stretch in the final period to help the Bombers nail their second straight triumph after opening the season with consecutive loses.
"Coach (Vergel Meneses) told me I was rushing my shots too much in the first half," said Paniamogan, who missed all seven of his field goal attempts in the first half. "So I took my time and picked my spots in the second half, which made it easier for me."
Paniamogan shone the brightest in the final three minutes when he scored 11 points that turned a 54-56 deficit into a win for JRU.
He gave the Bombers a 54-50 cushion after burying a triple from way past the three-point line, only to see Letran's Kevin Racal nail back-to-back triples to give the Knights the 56-54 lead and momentum entering the final stretch.
Paniamogan, who scored 11 of the Bombers' last 15 points, took over from that point, however, and zapped the last fight out of the Knights. Letran fell to a 1-3 win-loss slate.
With seconds remaining in regulation, Letran coach Garcia was called for a technical foul for continuous complaining and tossed from the game.
After the endgame buzzer sounded, Letran guard Mark Cruz charged at referee Ian Borbe and had to be restrained by assistant coach Mike Buendia.
On his way out of the court, the referee Borbe was hit by a crumpled paper thrown by a fan and responded by showing the dirty finger.
"We've filed many complaints against Borbe since last year. We can't get calls from him," Garcia revealed. "It's okay to lose a game, as long as the referees call it fairly."
Garcia also accused Borbe of threatening to punch Cruz.
Both Cruz and Garcia may face suspension for their unsportsmanlike actions.
Jose Rizal 69- Paniamogan 22, Grospe 10, Teodoro 10, Asuncion 10, Sanchez 4, Salaveria 4, Mabulac 4, Abdul Wahab 3, Lasquety 0, Benavides 0
Letran 60- Cruz 19, Racal 17, Ruaya 9, Nambatac 6, Singontiko 5, Quinto 2, Publico 2, Castro 0, Tambeling 0, Luib 0, Gabawan 0
Quarterscores: 14-all; 31-24; 45-48; 69-60