Jose Rizal University (JRU) relied on its tight defense down the stretch as it fended off the gutsy Mapua University, 62-58, to clinch a Final Four berth in 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 kept the Cardinals scoreless in the last two minutes as they secured one of the last two semifinals seat with their fourth straight victory and 11th overall against six losses.
“I think in the last three to four possessions of Mapua, we were able to stop them and we got the rebounds,” said JRU head coach Vergel Meneses.
The veteran mentor, however, was disappointed with how his wards performed.
“Honestly, I’m not happy with our win. They (players) don’t want to follow instructions. They thought that we can beat them (Mapua) only with offense,” lamented Meneses.
Teytey Teodoro finished with 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting clip while Jed Mendoza chipped in 10 markers for the Bombers, who made a return trip to the playoffs after missing out last season.
Meneses deflected the credit to his veteran cagers for their successful return to the Final Four.
“The difference of our team last year from now is the leadership of Gio (Lasquety) and our captain ball John Grospe.”
Almel Orquina paced the also-ran Cardinals with 14 points built on four triples while Christian Buñag tallied a double-double of 10 markers and 19 boards as they slid to a 3-13 win-loss record.
After a searing 7-0 start by the Bombers, a neck-and-neck contest ensued but JRU managed to snag a 21-17 lead in the opening quarter.
The Cardinals kept within striking distance at the half, 32-36, with Orquina, Buñag and Laurenz Victoria combining for 12 points.
Andoy Estrella capped a 10-2 rally to seize a slim 47-46 advantage but the Bombers fired six unanswered points to close out the third frame with a 52-47 cushion.
Victoria scored on a layup to push Mapua to within four points, 58-62, at the 2:04 mark.
That would be the Cardinals’ last basket as Teodoro and company displayed their sturdy defense to seal the win.
JRU (62)- Teodoro 19, Mendoza 10, Sawat 9, Grospe 8, Lasquety 6, Bordon 4, Abdulrazak 2, Poutouochi 2, David 2, Dela Virgen 0.
MU (58)- Orquina 14, Pelayo 11, Buñag 10, Victoria 8, Estrella 8, Raflores 6, Aguirre 1, Gabo 0, Jimenez 0.
Quarterscores: 21-17; 36-32; 52-47; 62-58