JRU boots out Mapua, moves a step closer to Final Four
MANILA, Philippines—Jose Rizal University moved a step closer to clinching the last Final Four berth after demolishing Mapua, 78-64, Monday in the 87th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Heavy Bombers, winners of five straight, befuddled the Cardinals with their crisp passing that translated to easy transition points.
“[Our game plan] was to really outrun them and I wanted everyone to be involved and get touches,” said JRU coach Vergel Meneses.
With momentum on its side, JRU ran out the gates and never looked back to boot out under-achieving Mapua of the Final Four race.
“I have quick guards so we attacked their press right away,” added Meneses, whose squad hiked its record to 8-9.
Veteran playmaker Alex Armario led the JRU charge with 17 points while the other guard Byron Villarias scattered 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
But it wasn’t just the Bombers’ fleet-footed backcourt that did the damage. The second stringers led by its big men, Jeckster Apinan and Ralph Monserat, also delivered.
Apinan and Monserat teamed up to man the shaded area and came through with 15 points and 16 rebounds combined.
Even if JRU’s chances to a Final Four slot are well on its favor, Meneses doesn’t want to celebrate too much.
“We still have to win our last game [against Emilio Aguinaldo College],” said Meneses.
Only Lyceum remains as the other team left in contention for a spot in the Final Four.
A loss by the Pirates against pacesetter San Sebastian Stags on Wednesday will give the Bombers the outright Final Four slot.
Jose Rizal U built its widest margin, 65-44, at the 5:32 mark of the last period courtesy of a Nate Matute free throw.
Mapua, which dropped to 7-11, missed the services of its big man Yousef Taha due to disciplinary reasons.
Allan Mangahas paced the Cardinals with 22 points.
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