A hot-starting San Sebastian weathered a late storm from Jose Rizal University to hack out an 88-81 victory on Wednesday and gain the solo lead in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
After scoring 14 unanswered points to start the game and building a lead that ballooned to nearly 30 points, the Golden Stags saw the Heavy Bombers mount on a furious fightback that cut the deficit to just a single digit before holding them off.
“We just trust each other,” Stags coach Topex Robinson said. “We dug ourselves into a hole, but we knew we could get out of it. And the breaks went out way in the end.”
Do-it-all forward CJ Perez posted a career-high 29 points and had 10 rebounds, two assists, and one steal while Bradwyn Guinto, Jovit dela Cruz, and Michael Calisaan provided ample support for the Stags, who notched a second straight win and kept the Bombers winless after two starts.
After scoring 16 points and hitting the game-winner in the Stags’ 85-83 win over Letran, Jamil Ortuoste was held to four markers time, but the San Sebastian’s early dominance more than made up for his void.
The Stags zoomed to a 14-0 lead then maintained the double-digit lead, which grew to 28 points, 67-39, late in third quarter, where Perez scored 13 of his total output.
But the Bombers, trying to avoid an embarrassment as this year’s hosts, fought back behind Philip Paniamogan and Razak Abdul Wahab to cut the lead to just seven points late in the fourth quarter.
The Bombers outscored the Stags, 31-10, thanks to Paniamogan’s outside shooting and Abdul Wahab’s inside incursions.
A breakaway slam by Abdul Wahab off a Paniamogan steal and assist capped off the run as the Bombers came to within 70-77 with 3:54 to go, but the Stags held on.
SSC 88 – Perez 29, Guinto 14, Dela Cruz 13, Calisaan 10, Fabian 6, Yong 6, Balucanag 4, Ortuoste 4, Aquino 2, Alvarez 0, Pretta 0, Costelo 0, Santos 0, Mercado 0.
JRU 81 – Paniamogan 21, Teodoro 17, Asuncion 13, Abdul Wahab 10, Benavides 8, Mabulac 6, Manuel 4, Lasquety 2, Sanchez 0, Salaveria 0, Munez 0, Balagtas 0, Grospe 0.
Quarterscores: 24-7; 45-33; 72-49; 88-81.