JOSE Rizal University dealt College of St. Benilde another heartbreaking loss - a 73-71 decision in overtime in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan on Thursday.
The Heavy Bombers squandered a late double-digit lead but leaned on their trademark defense down the stretch that translated to turnover points and free throws as they evened their win-loss card to 2-2 and kept the Blazers the only winless team in the league at 0-3.
Worse, the Blazers, this year's hosts, have now lost three games by a combined four points.
Luis Sinco tried to be the hero for the Blazers but missed two potential game-winning jumpers in regulation and overtime.
Paolo Pontejos and Philip Paniamogan fired 17 points apiece, but it was Jordan de la Paz who provided the hustle and the marginal charity that mattered most for the Bombers in overtime.
The 22-year-old Dela Paz sank one of two free throws that made it 73-71 after the junior forward was fouled following a steal from Paolo Taha right after the latter grabbed a defensive rebound.
It was timely victory for the Bombers, who were coming off a 69-66 loss to Letran last Saturday in a game where they faltered in the endgame after building a sizeable cushion.
“Kinalimutan na namin yung sa Letran. Sabi ko sa kanila we have to finish strong. They proved it now,” Bombers coach Vergel Meneses said.
After the Bombers established a 61-47 lead following a jumper from Schever Benavides with over seven minutes remaining in the fourth, the Blazers mounted a comeback capped by a three-point play by center Roberto Bartolo that knotted the count and forced overtime.
“Nag-bui-build pa lang kami ng character,” Meneses, a former PBA MVP, said. “As long as they play within the system, wala tayong magiging problema.”
Jose Rizal (73) – Paniamogan 17, Pontejos 17, Juanico 8, Mabulac 8, Dela Paz 7, Lasquety 6, Abanto 4, Benavides 4, Salaveria 2, Balagtas 0, Grospe 0
St. Benilde (71) – Romero 17, Saavedra 15, Sinco 11, Bartolo 10, Taha 7, Grey 4, Argamino 2, Garcia 2, Deles 2, Ongteco 1, Jonson 0, Carlos 0
Quarterscores: 17-17; 35-33; 55-47; 61-61; 73-72.