Top gunner Teytey Teodoro nailed a tough fadeaway jumper with 5.3 seconds left as Jose Rizal U escaped with a scrambling 60-59 victory over Emilio Aguinaldo College on Thursday to get back on track in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan.
In a tightly-contested match which had 22 lead changes and six deadlocks, the Heavy Bombers had the last laugh, thanks to Teodoro who came through with the biggest basket over the outstretched arms of Generals defender Francis Munsayac with less than six seconds to play.
With no timeouts left, Munsayac tried his best to help EAC steal the win but his potentially game-winning three-point try hit the back-end of the rim as time expired, enabling JRU to escape for its second win in five starts.
“It’s an ugly win but we’ll take it,” said JRU coach Vergel Meneses, still far from satisfied with the Heavy Bombers’ latest showing following a tough 66-69 loss to Lyceum last week. “It means we’re not in the level of the top teams. Ibig sabihin naroon kami sa ibaba.”
Teodoro went on to finish with a game-high 21 points, 13 of them coming in the first frame where JRU seized control, while forward Mark Cruz added 14 markers on top of six rebounds to help the Heavy Bombers’ cause.
Meneses, however, wasn’t convinced at all with his wards’ collective performance. “I don’t know what’s wrong. We are trying to figure it out,” he said.
The Generals suffered their fourth straight loss in five starts, seeing the solid performances delivered by import Hamadou Laminou and do-it-all forward Sidney Onwubere plus the late-game exploits of Munsayac go down the drain.
Onwubere dominated with 18 points and 19 rebounds while Laminou proved solid down low too with 14 markers, 14 rebounds and eight blocks. Munsayac had his own share of big plays, including a clutch bucket from 18 feet out that put the Generals ahead 59-58 with 11.1 seconds left.
Teodoro, however, had another thing in mind.
“Buti pumasok. Papalabas pa nga eh,” said Meneses of the game-winning jumper.
“I don’t know what’s wrong. We are trying o figure it out. Maybe ‘yung effort and attitude. We cannot teach everything. ‘Yung effort, attitude and heart, sila ‘yan. Lagi kong ine-emphasize sa kanila na kailangan may pride sila sa depensa. Wala akong nakikitang positive honestly.”
The longest tenured coach in the country’s oldest collegiate league who only missed the Final Four round once since 2010, Meneses said the Heavy Bombers need to improve further if they want to salvage their campaign.
“They way we are playing, I think we’ll be out of the Top 4 after this season. Instead of improving, we are playing bad,” he stressed.
JRU (60) – Teodoro 21, Cruz 14, Grospe 6, Dela Paz 5, Poutouchi 4, Abdul Wahab 4, Lasquety 2, Mendoza 2, Evardo 2, Dela Virgen 0, Astilla 0, Pontejos 0
EAC (59) – Onwubere 18, Laminou 14, King 7, Serrano 7, Guzman 6, Munsayac 4, Morada 3, Pascua 0, Diego 0, Corilla 0, Mendoza 0
Quarterscores: 19-10, 29-30, 45-44, 60-59.