A HOT-STARTING Jose Rizal University pounced on the continued absence of Emilio Aguinaldo College’s top big man as it cruised to a 73-54 victory on Friday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
With the Generals’ Cedric Happi out for a second straight game due to a lingering back injury, the Heavy Bombers zoomed to an early double-digit lead and never looked back en route to a seventh victory in 11 games.
Stalwart Michael Mabulac frolicked in the paint in the absence of his Cameroonian counterpart, scattering 18 points, 14 boards, four assists, and two blocks to lead the Bombers, who gained a piece of third spot with College of St. Benilde and Perpetual Help.
The Generals, on the other hand, dropped a second straight match and eighth overall against three victories to stay in eighth spot.
“For the past two days, nakita ko talaga yung intensity ng mga bata na gusto nilang bumawi from that heartbreaking loss,” Bombers coach Vergel Meneses said, referring to his team’s 77-84 overtime loss to Letran last Friday.
What the Bombers showed in practice they translated into the game as they established a 17-point first-quarter lead thanks to a suffocating defense that limited the Generals to just seven points in the same span.
The Generals, behind shooters Jerald Serrano and Jan Jamon, tried to make a comeback in the middle quarters, but the Bombers brandished the killer’s instinct in the final frame that was missing in the game against the Knights.
While Mabulac dominated the shaded lane, Jaycee Asuncion and Philip Paniamogan waxed hot from the outside, combining for five triples and 26 points.
JRU 73 – Mabulac 18, Asuncion 14, Paniamogan 12, Lasquety 10, Abdul Wahab 9, Benavides 9, Salaveria 1, Astilla 0, Sanchez 0, Munez 0, Grospe 0, Teodoro 0
EAC 54 – Serrano 16, Jamon 16, Onwubere 9, Tayongtong 7, Saludo 4, Arquero 2, Aguilar 0, Santos 0, Mejos 0, General 0, Quilanita 0
Quarterscores: 24-7, 41-23, 59-45, 73-54