JOSE Rizal University pounced on an error-prone Mapua side as it coasted to a 73-56 victory on Thursday to snap a five-game losing skid in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Heavy Bombers enjoyed a double-digit lead throughout, but saw the Cardinals threaten in the late stages behind Darrell Magsigay, although their opponents failed to sustain their push thanks to numerous head-scratching plays.
The Bombers thus notched only their first win in the second round and sixth overall in 14 games as they kept their flickering Final Four hopes alive.
Bombers coach Vergel Meneses hadn’t done the math before the game and the first thing the fiery mentor did when he entered the press room for the post-game interview was ask reporters if they still had a chance to reach the next round.
They still do, but their chances are not entirely in their hands as the sixth-running squad would have to pray that fellow semifinal aspirants San Sebastian and Emilio Aguinaldo lose their next games.
“No matter what happens, we need to finish the season on a high note,” said a relieved Meneses, whose team dealt Mapua its 13th straight loss and 14th overall against a lone win.
Michael Mabulac stood at the forefront of the Bombers' attack, tallying a double-double of 19 points and 12 boards, while Philip Paniamogan provided ample support with 18 points, four rebounds, and three steals.
Magsigay scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, including a fast-break layup that capped the Cardinals’ 10-0 blast and trimmed a 42-58 deficit to just six points.
But the Cardinals committed two straight turnovers, one a backcourt violation from Magsigay and the other by Kenneth Ighalo, who was charged a call after uselessly hanging on the ring in a rebound play.
The string of events allowed the Bombers to pull away anew as they finished the game on a 15-4 run.
Ighalo, the Cardinals' skipper and leading scorer, wound up with just four points on 1-of-9 shooting in 36 minutes of play.
JRU (73) – Mabulac 19, Paniamogan 18, Benavides 10, Dela Paz 9, Abanto 8, Sanchez 5, Lasquety 2, Salaveria 2, Grospe 0.
MIT (56) – Braña 13, Magsigay 11, Saitanan 9, Isit 6, Eriobu 6, Ighalo 4, Biteng 3, Gabo 2, Cantos 2, Magtoto 0.
Quarterscores: 26-16; 40-32; 56-42; 73-56.