NIGERIAN Ikee Akpuru hit the go-ahead basket in the last 2.2 seconds to lift Technological Institute of the Philippines over Bulacan State University, 85-83, to boost its semis bid in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League on Saturday at the Olivarez Sports Center in Paranaque City.
The 6-foot-5 Akpuru shattered an 83-all count with strong drive to the basket, helping the Engineers notch their sixth win in eight games.
“We had a hard time in this game. Unlike in our first game, it’s different now. They (BulSU) improved a lot and they gained confidence now. We need really to work more if we have to be in the Final Four,” said TIP coach Potet de Vera, referring to their 103-83 win over the Gold Gears in the first round of the elimination last Oct. 13.
Harley Diego registered 22 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two block shots to lead the Engineers' come-from-behind victory, while Bryan Santos finished with 17 and John Enriquez added 14.
Akpuru chipped in 12 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes of action.
With the setback, the Gold Gears dropped to 3-5 card for solo fifth spot and need to win their remaining four games to keep their hopes of making it to the semifinals.
Down by 12 points, 74-62, with still 9:01 remaining in the game, the Engineers slowly inched their way back into the contest. Akpuru’s jumper with 6:28 to go triggered a massive 13-0 run to grab the lead 80-78, with only 2:42 left in the game. But Dominick Fajardo split his charities and Kenneth Reyes scored on a jumper that enabled the Gold Gears to regain the lead, 83-80, with only 55 ticks remaining.
Enriquez buried a triple on the next play to tie the match, 83-83, and Akpuru’s heroics sealed the win.
Kenneth Reyes topscored for the Gold Gears with 25 points.
TIP 85 – Diego 22, Santos B. 17, Enriquez 14, Akpuru 12, Rosopa 9, Gadon 8, Jimenez 3, Lara 0, Matignas 0, Alcover 0, Okoronkwo 0
BulSU 83 – Reyes 25, De Leon L. 16, Fajardo 15, Mendoza A. 14, Jauco 6, Necio 5, De la Cruz 2, Mendoza J. 0
Quarters: 21-25, 42-47, 62-72, 85-83
Team Standings W L
CEU 8 0
TIP 6 2
Olivarez 4 3
CDSL 4 4
BulSU 3 5
Diliman 2 5
UB 0 8