ARTHUR de la Cruz finished with 25 points on top of 17 rebounds, six assists and a lone steal to lift the San Beda College Red Lions to a slim 83-81 victory over the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas on Tuesday in the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament elimination round at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Red Lions, with a 5-1 card now occupy the second spot, just a half a game behind solo leader Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights that were unbeaten in five games.
Ola Adeogun posted 11 points and 13 rebounds; Micole Solera had 15 and nine rebounds, while Nigerian Bright Akhuettie led the Altas with 23 points and 13 rebounds plus 20 points from Earl Scottie Thompson.
The Altas could have pushed the game to a five-minute extension with still 6.8 seconds remaining but Thompson’s pass was deflected by Solera allowing the Red Lions to win.
In the other game, the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers downed the College of Saint Benilde Blazers, 67-49, to grab a share of the fourth spot that is also occupied by the Altas. Both teams are bearing 4-2 win-loss records.
Bernabe Teodoro once again led the Heavy Bombers’ run-and-gun rampage with 21 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists, while John Grospe finished with nine points and Abdoul Poutouchi with seven.
“Coach Vergel Meneses told us to play with our best all throughout and we should never relax and so we did. For our next game, we have to prepare hard and keep our focus. We always practice seriously, that’s really our better preparation,” said Teodoro.
Teodoro’s accurate shooting enabled the Heavy Bombers to lead by as much as 25 points, 58-33, with still 8:12 remaining in the pivotal period. The Blazers managed to reduce the gap to 16 points, 46-62, through the 13-4 run by Alfonso Saavedra and Raphael Nayve, with only 2:01 to go.
“The reason why we did good in the pre-season is because of him, he’s our go-to-guy. I just told them if we can hold our opponents to less than 70 points, we have a chance to win. I’m glad they responded,” said JRU coach Meneses.
Jeffrey Ongteco and Alfonso Saavedra scored 10 points apiece to lead the Blazers, whose record dropped to 1-5, just half a game ahead of the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, that are still winless after five matches.