Jose Rizal U’s Heavy Bombers, notably veteran guard Paolo Pontejos, finally played true to the sharp form that coach Vergel Meneses has been looking for.
Pontejos picked up from where backcourt partner Teytey Teodoro left off, leading JRU to a masterful 86-56 victory over hapless College of St. Benilde on Tuesday night and into the winner’s column of the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan.
Scoreless the last time out, Pontejos sizzled with 23 points, 18 of them coming in the second half, while Teodoro tallied 13 of his 15 markers in their ferocious start that set the tone for the Heavy Bombers’ first win after three starts.
“Baka maganda gising,” said Meneses of Pontejos, who was sitting beside him during the post-match press conference.
“Gusto lang siguro mabanlawan. Dalawang games na siyang puro sermon sa akin at buong week, siya lang talaga ang nakikita ko. Hindi ‘yun ‘yung Paolo na naglaro sa akin last year. Kanina talagang nag-step up siya at nakita ko ‘yung rhythm niya,” added the former pro league great.
The Heavy Bombers’ pair of reinforcements, Abdoulad Poutouochi and AbdulRazak AbdulWahab, combined for 18 markers, 15 rebounds and four blocks, providing the inside presence that was hardly seen in their first two losses against league-leading Mapua and Perpetual Help.
“Siguro na-challenge sila kung ano man ‘yung sinabi ko sa kanila,” said Meneses, who stormed out of their dugout following a 50-58 setback dealt by the Altas last July 1. “They wanted to prove something at nakita ko ‘yun ngayon.”
While he shone offensively, Pontejos felt the JRU’s sustained defense proved to be the key.
“Dumipensa kami. Kumbaga natauhan na kami sa dalawang talo. Maganda na rin na manalo kami kesa mag-end na zero-three. Sana magtuloy-tuloy na,” he said.
St. Benidle guard JJ Domingo collected 21 points, five assists and four rebounds but the Blazers still trailed by as many as 32 points, leading to their fourth consecutive setback. – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports
JRU (86) – Pontejos 23, Teodoro 15, Poutuouchi 15, Abdulrazak 8, Evardo 6, Dela Paz 5, Lasquety 4, Mendoza 4, Dada 3, Astilla 2, Caballero 2, Cruz 2, Grospe 2, Dela Virgen 0.
ST. BENILDE (56) – Domingo JJ 21, Belgica 11, Leutcheu 8, Dixon 4, Castro 3, Pajarillaga 2, Sta. Maria 2, Domingo JS 0, Pasamante 0, Saavedra 0, San Juan 0, Young 0.
Quarterscores: 22-6, 36-22, 57-34, 86-56.