JRU coach Vergel Meneses refuses to comment on 'benching' of misfiring Paniamogan
Philip Paniamogan had three points and four turnovers for the Bombers and was used for just two minutes in the second half by JRU coach Vergel Meneses. Dante Peralta

JOSE Rizal University’s Michael Mabulac defended teammate Philip Paniamogan, who floundered in the Heavy Bombers’ 65-72 loss to Arellano in the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Paniamogan, the Bombers’ leading scorer, fired blanks in the all-important match, missing all but one of his seven shots to finish with only three points apart from having four turnovers, although the streaky shooter had four rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block in 14 minutes.

While he expected more from his fellow senior, Mabulac felt the pressure in this stage of the tournament took its toll on Paniamogan.

“Siyempre inasahan ko si Philip,” Mabulac told Spin.ph after the game. “Kung umiskor si Philip talaga kanina, alam ko hindi magkakaganun. Buti nga pumutok si (Jaycee) Asuncion, kaya lang late na.”

Asuncion filled the void left by the misdiring Paniamogan, firing a team-high 19 points, including 10 in the final frame where they threatened, before bowing out.

“May tiwala naman ako kay Philip, teammate ko yun eh,” Mabulac said. “Minsan kasi pag nasobrahan ka ng pag-iisip, nagiging ganun eh.”

“Pag sinobrahan mo yung pag-iisip, parang hindi mo na mako-control eh. Siguro ganun ang nangyari,” added the senior power forward, who registered 13 points, 12 boards, two assists, and one block in 34 minutes.

But Mabulac said he has no reason to accuse Paniamogan of anything.

“Hindi ako naniniwala na may ginawa siyang kalokohan,” he said of his teammate, who played just two minutes in the second half after a disappointing first half.

Asked why he benched Paniamogan in the second half, Bombers coach Vergel Meneses declined to answer.

“Maybe you should ask him,” Meneses said. “Pumutok rin si Jaycee, pero mas maganda siya (Paniamogan) na lang tanong niyo.”

Paniamogan, however, could not be reached as of posting time.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos