Jose Rizal U found an unlikely spark in Marco Balagtas as the Heavy Bombers repulsed the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 85-79, last night for their second straight win in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Balagtas, a 6-foot-2 find from Malolos, Bulacan, delivered 14 points, built on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc to help the Bombers hold off the Generals and climb to solo fourth spot with a 3-2 card.
Philip Paniamogan sustained his stellar play for the Bombers with a game-high 23 points, but it was Balagtas’ treys that sparked an early fourth quarter burst that gave JRU enough cushion to survive a late run by the Generals.
“We know he (Balagtas) can shoot, but I needed him more for rebounding,” said JRU coach Vergel Meneses.
“Personally, I’m happy he was able to deliver because I was the one who recruited him from our hometown.”
In the other seniors game, Baser Amer and Art Dela Cruz sustained their strong play as San Beda kept its cool and survived a bruising encounter with Mapua, 78-53, to seize solo second.
On attack-mode right from the start, Amer dished out a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards, while Dela Cruz pumped in 13 points and seven rebounds to carry the defending champion Lions to their third straight victory .
San Beda improved to 4-1, while Mapua lost for the third straight time and fell to 1-4.
The Generals got more production from the hurting Happi Noube this time as the Cameroonian center finished with 20 points and 15 boards.
But the Generals, struggling to cross the midcourt lane due to the Bombers’ pressure defense, faded early in the final quarter after a strong finish in the third period.
With Balagtas finding his range, the Bombers extended a four-point lead to 14 after outscoring the Generals, 20-10, in the first seven minutes of the final period.
The Generals made a last-ditch assault to close in at, 83-79, with 35 seconds remaining but the Bombers were beyond recall by then.
Center Michael Mabulac bucked a horrific fall in the third period to finish the game with 16 points and nine boards for the Bombers, who prevailed despite losing the rebounding battle, 38-48.
The Bombers seized control at 29-21 with Paolo Pontejas scoring eight of his 12 points in the first four minutes of the second quarter.
Seniors First Game
JRU 85—Paniamogan 23, Mabulac 16. Balagtas 14, Pontejos 12, Juanico 6, Lasquety 5, Salaveria 4, Dela Paz 3, Abanto 2, Benavides 0.
EAC 79—Happi 20, Arquero 14, Paguia 12, Tayongtong 10, King 8, Jamon 6, Castro 4, MOrada 3, Munsayac 2, Monteclaro 0.
Quarters: 21-21, 37-34, 63-59, 85-79