By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Jose Rizal University (NCAA) Heavy Bombers strengthened their hold of solo third place in the standings of Season 93 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) yesterday with a gutsy victory over the Letran Knights, 77-68.
Absorbed a tough loss in their last game, the Kalentong-based JRU made sure not to fall for a second straight time just as it gave its tournament push a favor by notching its seventh win in 11 matches, on track for a Final Four spot if it gets to sustain its form.
The contest got off to a competitive start with the protagonists fighting to a 12-all stalemate at the end of the first quarter.
The Heavy Bombers though would make a spirited run in the second canto, led by guard Teytey Teodoro and Ervin Grospe, to seize command of the match.
JRU steadily built a lead as the frame progressed, outscoring Letran, 24-15, to create a 36-27 cushion by the halftime break.
The Vergel Meneses-coached Heavy Bombers maintained their dominance over the Muralla-based Knights early in the third canto, building a 14-point lead, 48-34, in the first five minutes.
They would use it as a jump-off point to hold sway as the quarter drew to a close, 58-45.
Letran upped its intensity in the fourth quarter, knowing that it had to double its efforts if it was to come back in the game.
The Knights cut down their deficit to eight points, 66-58, with four minutes remaining in the game.
JRU, however, answered with five quick points after to stretch their lead anew with the game down to its last two minutes.
It was an advantage that the Heavy Bombers would not let their hands slip away from en route to winning the match.
Teodoro and Grospe each had 15 points for JRU with guards Jed Mendoza and Mark dela Virgen finishing with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
For Letran (5-6) it was JP Calvo who led the way with 21 points. Rey Nambatac had 14 points while Bong Quinto had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“We just focused on our end-game composure. Last time around we were not able to do it and that did it for us against Arellano. This time around we made sure that we would not be rattled to come up with the win,” said Teodoro, named player of the game after.
“It’s a big win for us but we must continue taking it one game at a time and stick to the game plan of Coach Vergel,” he added.
Meanwhile, the NCAA caps off the week with a triple-header also at the FilOil Flying V Centre today.
Opening game at 12 noon will see league-leading and still unbeaten Lyceum Pirates (11-0) battle the Arellano Chiefs (4-6).
Next will be the encounter between the Perpetual Help Altas and College of St. Benilde Blazers at 2 p.m.
The final game at 4 p.m. will be the collision of defending champions San Beda Red Lions and Season 93 hosts and rivals San Sebastian Stags.