MANILA, Philippines – Jose Rizal University (JRU) led wire-to-wire in a 97-88 victory over San Beda Red College to fan its Final Four chances in the NCAA Season 92 men's basketball tournament on Tuesday at the Arena in San Juan.
The Heavy Bombers nearly squandered a 20-point advantage in the second half but made enough big shots in the fourth quarter to withstand San Beda's late rally and improve to 9-6.
"Oo nga, (this is our best performance)," JRU head coach Vergel Meneses said after the game. "Ngayon ko lang sila nakita na nagpasahan ng ganyan eh. Lagi kong ine-emphasize sa kanila 'yan – huwag nating pahirapan ang basketball. Napaka-dali, 'di ba? We have to trust everybody."
JRU opened the game with nine unanswered points and took a 33-18 lead after the first frame. MJ dela Virgen then scored 15 points in the second quarter to send the Heavy Bombers into the halftime break with a comfortable 56-34 lead.
In the third quarter, it was Tey Teodoro's turn to torch the Red Lions, as he scored 13 of his team high 28 points in the frame. His lay-up at the 6:24 mark of the period gave JRU its biggest lead at 27 points, 66-39.
San Beda clawed its way back in the fourth quarter, as they outscored JRU, 31-18. The Red Lions got to within nine points, 77-86, with still 4:06 left to play, only to give up a booming triple to Teodoro, and an open lay-up to AbdulWahab AbdulRazak.
A lay-up by Javee Mocon made it a seven-point game, 86-93, with 1:21 left, but again, AbdulRazak came through with a timely basket to pad JRU's lead. Ultimately, the Red Lions ran out of time to complete the rally, as the Heavy Bombers had an answer every time they got too close.
"Buti na lang, we were up by 24 (in the second half)," said Meneses. "Kung may extra period 'yun, baka natalo pa kami. We have to correct that – we have to finish strong."
Teodoro added six rebounds, two assists, and one steal to his 28-point output, while dela Virgen scored a career-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. The Heavy Bombers, as a team, shot 59.42% and tallied 28 assists.
San Beda converted a respectable 45.33% of its own attempts and forced JRU to commit 23 turnovers, but dug itself into too deep a hole in the first half. Mocon led the Red Lions with 26 points, 12 of which came in the final frame, to go along with nine rebounds.
JRU swept San Beda this season, having beaten the Red Lions, 79-73, when they met in the first round. San Beda has now lost two games in a row – their first losing streak of the tournament – and three of their last four contests.
The Red Lions' record now stands at 11-4, and Arellano University – which earlier beat Lyceum of the Philippines University, 78-75 – took hold of first place with its 11-3 record.
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