Jose Rizal University didn’t stand a chance, it seemed, against three-time champion NLEX just three days ago.
Rebounding from a 30-point blowout loss in Game 1, the Heavy Bombers shocked the Road Warriors, 108-94, yesterday to forge a rubber match for a championship berth in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.
Blackwater Sports also pushed its own series to a Game 3 as the Elite downed Cagayan Valley, 86-79, in Game 2 of the other best-of-three semifinals at Ynares Sports Arena.
“The adjustment was more on (applying) the defensive pressure, unlike in Game 1 where we allowed them to do anything they wanted,” said coach Leo Isaac after his Elite rose from their Game 1 setback, 76-91, against the Rising Suns.
The Bombers jumped to a 12-1 start and had everything going for them the rest of the way as they built double-digit leads of as many as 16 points, 48-32.
“We had a good start,” said JRU coach Vergel Meneses after his Bombers recovered from a lopsided 85-105 loss to the Road Warriors last Tuesday. “We didn’t do anything different, they just played with heart.”
Game 3 is set Tuesday with the winners of both series advancing to a best-of-three finals.
John Byron Villarias fired 24 points, half coming from three-point range, and dished out five assists to lead the Bombers in dealing NLEX only its second loss of the season.
Also coming out with huge games were Philip Paniamogan (20 points), Dexter Maiquez (20 points and 10 rebounds) and John Pinto (16 points and five assists).
Justine Chua paced the Elite with 16 points and Rob Celiz added 12, including six in the last four minutes that kept them ahead, 81-72, after the Rising Suns moved within, 75-70.
The Bombers wrapped up the first quarter on top, 28-17, as the Road Warriors struggled with a 28.6 percent (4-of-14) shooting clip.
In one of the Road Warriors’ repeated rallies in the second half, the virtual all-star amateur squad came within four points, 74-78, behind Greg Slaughter and Kevin Alas.
JRU-AIR21 108—Villarias 24, Paniamogan 20, Maiquez 20, Pinto 16, Mirza 10, Apinan 7, Mabulac 6, Lopez 2, Del Rio 2, Ighalo 1, Almario 0.
NLEX 94—Slaughter 15, Alas 15, Sangalang 13, Garcia 12, Long 11, Sumalinog 7, Camson 5, Lanete 5, Salva 4, Pascual 4, Amer 3, Hermida 0.
Quarters: 28-17, 48-39, 76-68, 108-94
BLACKWATER SPORTS 86—Chua 16, Celiz 12, Abdul 10, Ferrer 10, Mangahas 9, Llagas 9, Bagatsing 7, Vigil 5, Fortuna 4, Ciriacruz I. 4, Ciriacruz G. 0.
CAGAYAN VALLEY 79—Poligrates 23, Exciminiano 15, Lao 11, Celada 9, Forrester 7, Bringas 6, Almazan 4, Pasculado 2, Webb 2, Canta 0, Villanil 0, Melano 0.
Quarters: 22-19, 44-40, 67-60, 86-79