Darius Estrella and John Ervin Grospe delivered the final blows as Jose Rizal University (JRU) frustrated University of Santo Tomas (UST), 61-55, in the 11th FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
Estrella fired a triple and Grospe banked in the go-ahead trey with 19 seconds remaining to give JRU a comfortable 58-55 lead as the Heavy Bombers improved their record to 5-1.
JRU head coach Vergel Meneses lauded his wards’ defensive effort in the fourth period and emphasized the stellar performances of his two big men in the endgame.
“The players responded with energy. Big shot by Estrella and big shot by John (Grospe) that sealed the game,” said Meneses, whose squad snagged its second straight victory.
The Heavy Bombers waxed hot at the onset as it sparked an 11-3 run but UST was quick to answer with its own 10-0 rally and eventually grabbed a 26-22 advantage at the end of the first period.
JRU clawed their way back from a nine-point deficit in the third quarter to keep the game close at 40-42.
Oliver de Guzman of UST hit a long jumper to tie the scoreline at 55-all entering the final two minutes but Estrella and Grospe hit the clutch three-pointers to secure the win.
Grospe chalked a game-high 18 points while Estrella contributed seven markers. JRU’s main man Teytey Teodoro was held to 10 off the bench following a 19-point explosion in their last outing.
“I told Tey (Teodoro), he’s now a marked man.’ He (must) involve his teammates,” noted Meneses.
De Guzman led UST with 17 points while Christian Garcia added 13 as the struggling Growling Tigers stayed second from the bottom of Group A with a 1-4 card.
In the juniors division, a Kai Sotto-less Ateneo de Manila University dominated National University (NU), 76-66.
The Blue Eaglets capitalized on the Bullpups’ 26 turnovers, converting 26 points from those errors to clinch their second win in as many games.
Sj Belangel stepped up in the absence of the 6-foot-11 Sotto, finishing with 19 points and eight rebounds while Manuel Joaquin tallied a double-double of 13 markers and 10 boards.
The Batang Gilas stalwart was not able to suit up for the Katipunan-based squad as he attended a training camp in Las Vegas, USA.
Terrence Fortea scored 13 points and Cyril Gonzales had nine as the erstwhile unbeaten NU fell to 2-1.
JEREMIAH M. SEVILLA