Jose Rizal University (JRU) fended off a gritty Mapua University, 68-59, to post a strong finish in the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 93 basketball tournament on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
The Heavy Bombers foiled a late run by the Cardinals as they sealed their fourth straight win and sixth overall against three losses to firm up their hold of the third spot.
But Jose Rizal U’s head coach Vergel Meneses was disappointed with his team’s performance.
“A win is a win. But I’m not happy with how we played today,” said Meneses, whose wards committed several turnovers down the stretch.
“They (players) thought that they can easily beat Mapua. Well, Mapua gave them a hard time,” he added.
Aaron Bordon displayed a breakout game as the guard drilled in a career-high 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting clip while Jed Mendoza, Ervin Grospe and Mark Dela Virgen chipped in double figures for the Bombers.
Christian Buñag’s huge double-double of 15 points and 21 rebounds went for naught as the eight-man Cardinals ended their first round campaign on a seven-game losing skid.
Atoy Co’s squad also wound up at the bottom of the standings with a dismal 1-8 card.
The Bombers pulled away from a 49-42 game as they dropped a 20-3 blast bridging the last two quarters to notch their largest lead at 64-45.
Not wanting to back down, the Cardinals came up with their own run to cut the deficit to just seven points, 59-66, in the closing minutes.
But the Mandaluyong-based cagers kept their composure to repulse a possible comeback by Mapua.
Meanwhile, San Beda College ripped Arellano University, 95-70, to bag its seventh consecutive victory.
Robert Bolick finished with a team-best 23 points while Javee Mocon contributed 19 markers as the Red Lions improved to 8-1 and stayed within striking distance to leading Lyceum of the Philippines University, which sports a clean 9-0 slate.
Kent Salado scored a game-high 26 points but the Chiefs still fell to 3-6 on a joint seventh with University of Perpetual Help System DALTA.