JOSE RIZAL University used a strong start and held on to force a do-or-die match for a finals seat, defeating NLEX, 108-94, in Game Two of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup semifinals on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Facing the prospect of elimination via sweep, the Heavy Bombers tied the series at one game apiece behind a torrid 28-17 first period.
JRU can complete a stunning upset over the three-time defending champion NLEX in Game Three, to be played on Tuesday at the San Juan Arena.
The Heavy Bombers never looked back after that big lead in the first quarter as it finished with five players scoring in double figures in a balanced scoring attack.
“Good start kami kanina,” said JRU head coach Vergel Meneses. “Ang maganda, ayaw magpatalo ng mga bata. Ayaw nila mag-bakasyon.
Byron Villarias led the Heavy Bombers with 24 points, Dexter Maiquez had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Philip Paniamogan also scored 20 points.
Meanwhile, John Pinto also sparked the Heavy Bombers in the point guard position with 16 points and five assists, while Khazim Mirza chipped in 10 points.
The Heavy Bombers were also productive from three-point range nailing 10 of their 22 shots from behind-the-arc, and outrebounded a much bigger NLEX squad, 46-37.
Greg Slaughter had 15 points for NLEX, which has not lost since its 24-game winning streak was snapped by Café France in December. Kevin Alas scored 15 for the Road Warriors.
JRU (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, J. Pascual 4, Amer 3, Hermida 0.
Quarterscores: 28-17; 48-39; 76-68; 108-94.