PLAYING with nothing to lose, the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers are back to surprising people.
The Bombers featuring a bunch of young players pulled the rug from under UAAP champions La Salle Green Archers on Monday at the start of the Filoil preseason tournament.
With the departure of veterans like Paolo Pontejos and Jordan de la Paz, expectations weren't too high for coach Vergel Meneses' squad.
But just like they did when they lost top gunners like Michael Mabulac and Phillip Paniamogan, they have managed to form a competitive squad and pull off big wins with sheer hard work and tenacity on defense.
"Bilang veteran tapos marami sa amin mga rookies, sabi ko sa kanila, pag pinasok sila ni coach, talagang focus muna on defense. Offense will follow, sa defense muna mag contribute," said veteran guard Gio Lasquety, who drained a huge basket in the two-minute mark to give the Bombers an 83-79 lead.
"From the start iniimply na namin sa team na kaya tayo nasa JRU, yung depensa ang pinagkukuhaan ng panalo natin," he added.
Meneses saw that tenacity from his young guys as Jed Mendoza, Darius Estrella and MJ dela Virgen saw a spike in minutes.
The three played big in the fourth as the Heavy Bombers continued to stay in front despite resting star gunner Tey Teodoro.
"We played a good game, maybe La Salle played a bad game, we worked hard for it, my boys worked for it, that's why we deserved to win," Meneses said.
The longtime JRU mentor claimed that he doesn't have the strongest of lineups compared to other squads, but is confident they can challenge for titles as long as they continue to play this way.
After all, that has been JRU's brand of basketball since Meneses took over.
"Honestly I don't have a good team, we're not strong. If we will play the same way, every game in the NCAA, I think we'll go places. Di ko sinasabing it will be a top four finish, I think we can beat anybody in the league."