JOSE Rizal University rallied from a late double-digit deficit to turn back College of St. Benilde, 77-72, and keep its hold of the lead in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan on Monday night.
The Bombers dug themselves out of a 59-69 hole halfway through the fourth as they once again clamped down on defense at crunch time, limiting the Blazers to just nine points while scoring 28, mostly on fastbreak points.
“Sinubukan naming mag-zone defense at nakapag-adjust naman,” Bombers coach Vergel Meneses said.
The Bombers improved to 6-1 and tied San Sebastian on top of the standings.
Separate huge runs by each team marked a game of changing fortunes.
The Blazers mounted a 17-0 blast in the third quarter that turned a tied score into a 61-44 lead with two minutes and 20 seconds left in the period.
Then the Bombers went on their own scoring spree, hitting 14 straight points to grab the upperhand, 73-69, and pulled away for the come-from-behind victory.
Nate Matute scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half to topscore for the Bombers.
But it was the defense and rebounding of Byron Villarias, Decoy Lopez, and Ronnel Carampil in the second half that carried the Mandaluyong-based squad to victory.
After the game, Meneses warned his Bombers about becoming complacent, well aware they will be up against a tough foe in their next outing.
“You can celebrate now pero back to work sa San Beda on Wednesday,” he said.
Mark Romero paced the Blazers, who fell to 3-5, with 18 points and five rebounds.
JOSE RIZAL (77) -- Matute 22, Carampil 14, Villarias 12, Lopez 7, Almario 6, Diapera 6, Camasura 4, Mabulac 4, Mendoza 2, Dela Paz 0, Salaveria 0
ST. BENILDE (72) -- Romero 18, Tolentino 13, Lastimosa 13, Grey 8, Taha 6, Sinco 5, Deles 4, Maconocido 3, Bartolo 2, Garcia 0, Ongteco 0, Tan 0, Altamirano 0
Quarterscores: 16-23, 40-37, 49-63, 77-72.