THEY may have enjoyed blowout victories recently, but the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers proved they can still wiggle out of tight matches.
The Bombers once again justified their reputation as the king of close battles in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, hacking out an 80-76 overtime victory over University of Perpetual Help to boost their Final Four bid at The Arena in San Juan.
Coming off two comfortable wins—73-54 against Emilio Aguinaldo and 67-43 versus Lyceum, the Heavy Bombers saw themselves in another close battle, which they thrived on en route to recording their ninth win in 13 games.
Philip Paniamogan, Michael Mabulac, and Jaycee Asuncion delivered as usual for the Bombers, survived the endgame explosion of Earl Thompson after the leading MVP candidate singlehandedly tried to rally the Altas in overtime, scoring all his team’s 13 points.
“The composure was again there,” Bombers coach Vergel Meneses said. “We’re building character.”
The Bombers thus broke a tie with their victims in third spot, leaving the Altas in another tie, with College of St. Benilde this time with an 8-5 card.
JRU also swept its head-to-head matchup with Perpetual in the elimination round after also ekeing out a 62-61 win in the first round.
Paniamogan fired 22 points, built around three triples, the last a tough attempt off the dribble in the Bombers’ last offensive possession in regulation that forced overtime.
Then Asuncion, who happens to be a transferee form Perpetual Help, took over in the extra session, scoring seven of his 16 points, including a close-range bucket that gave the Bombers enough cushion to hold on at 77-74 with a little over a minute remaining.
The loss put to naught the own one-man rally of Thompson, who took matters into his own hands after fellow standout Harold Arboleda fouled out, having an answer for every JRU conversion.
JRU 80 – Paniamogan 22, Mabulac 21, Asuncion 16, Sanchez 7, Lasquety 4, Balagtas 4, Abdul Wahab 3, Teodoro 2, Grospe 1, Benavides 0
UPHSD 76 – Thompson 26, Baloria 21, Alano 15, Arboleda 7, Dagangon 7, Oliveria 0, Dizon 0, Ylagan 0, Tamayo 0, Bantayan 0, Gallardo 0, Jolangcob 0
Quarterscores: 19-16, 39-34, 50-51, 63-63, 80-76