MANILA, Philippines – Jose Rizal University tightened up its defense down the stretch to squeak past San Sebastian, 67-63, in the NCAA Season 89 men’s basketball tournament Saturday night at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Swingman Jordan dela Paz broke out with 21 points and nine rebounds to lead the Heavy Bombers to a 4-3 record.
“They were on a three-game winning streak so I told them we have to stop them. We have to match their effort and aggressiveness. Fight lang ng fight yung San Sebastian so we have to match it,” said JRU head coach Vergel Meneses.
“In the fourth quarter we made stops. I think that was the bottom line. We’re not just trading baskets with them,” added Meneses.
Dela Paz filled in for the off-form Philip Paniamogan, who struggled with just four points in only 12 minutes of play.
“He stayed aggressive the entire game. Sabi ko nga last time, it’s going to be Jordan’s time as long as he is aggressive,” said Meneses of his third year player.
The Stags stuck within reach despite getting futile offensive production from its usual stars like Leo de Vera and Jamil Ortuoste, who combined for only seven points on three-of-22 shooting from the field.
CJ Perez had 17 points for San Sebastian while Raffy Gusi added 11, including two straight triples that put the Stags up by one, 63-62, with 1:55 remaining.
The Bombers regained the lead after two free throws by Paniamogan followed by another freebie by dela Paz, 65-63, with 1:10 remaining.
Down by just two, San Sebastian blew golden opportunities to tie or even take the lead after a couple of turnovers by Ortuoste, who lost his balance at the mid-court line, before Perez lost the ball out of bounds on the drive.
Juan Salaveria sealed the game with two free throws in the final 3.1 ticks.
The Stags, who had 24 turnovers and just 12 assists, dropped into a tie in fourth place with the Bombers.