Jose Rizal U revives NCAA Final 4 hopes, beats hapless St. Benilde

Banking on a big surge in the third quarter, Jose Rizal U repeated over St. Benilde on Friday afternoon, 71-63 to put its 92nd NCAA seniors basketball Final Four bid back on track at the Arena in San Juan City.

Up by just five at the break, the Heavy Bombers went on a big tear in the third quarter, highlighted by a telling 16-0 run to pull away from the Blazers and gaie themselves a perfect tonic following a painful 60-63 loss to Emilio Aguinaldo College last Tuesday.

The Heavy Bombers improved to 8-6, staying hot on the heels of the Mapua Cardinals (8-5) for the fourth and final semifinals berth. The Blazers, who also fell prey to the Heavy Bombers, 56-86 last July 12, remained winless after 14 matches.

“Nu’ng halftime, sabi ko sa kanila na parang ayaw niyo manalo. Buti naman pagdating ng second half, nag-improve,” said JRU coach Vergel Meneses, pleased with the Heavy Bombers’ 24-point explosion while limiting the Blazers to just 13 during their decisive push.

Cameroon big man Abdoulad Poutouochi had another solid performance of 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks while guard Paolo Pontejos added 14 markers. Top gunner Teytey Teodoro though sparked JRU’s blistering run.

The stocky Teodoro fired away nine of his 11 points in the third, including a triple that gave the Heavy Bombers a sizeable 54-36, leaving the Blazers eating the dust.

Yankie Haruna tallied 14 points and eight rebounds in another losing effort for St. Benilde.

While he admitted the Generals outplayed his wards the last time out, Meneses felt fatigue took its toll on the Heavy Bombers during that stunning loss.

“Medyo short rotation ako. Hindi ako nagbibigay ng excuse pero may fatigue factor din. Hirap ako kumuha ng players sa 9 to 15 namin,” he said. – Jerome Lagunzad

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The scores:

JRU (71) — Poutouochi 14, Pontejos 14, Teodoro 11, Grospe 8, Cruz 6, AbdulWahab 5, Dela Virgen 4, Mendoza 4, Lasquety 2 Astilla 1, Dada 1, Dela Paz 1, Evardo 0.

St. Benilde (63) — Haruna 14, Dixon 13, Jj Domingo 8, Young 6, Castro 4, Fajarito 4, Sta. Maria 4, Pajarillaga 0, Pasamante 0.

Quarterscores: 21-16; 38-33; 62-46; 71-63.