Prized import Bright Akhuetie took charge down the stretch as Perpetual Help outlasted Jose Rizal U in double overtime, 89-80 on Friday afternoon to inch closer towards a Final Four berth in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
With top JRU defender Abdoul Poutouochi fouling out in the first overtime session, the 6-foot-7 Akhuetie exploited his absence by banging in seven of his game-high 28 points in the second extra five-minute period, allowing the Altas to take control over the fading Heavy Bombers.
“It’s a great win for us,” beamed Perpetual Help coach Jimwell Gican, pleased with how the Altas bounced back from a painful 63-69 setback dealt by defending champion Letran last Tuesday.
“At least nabawas-bawasan ‘yung sakit sa dibdib. Ang sama kasi ng pagkatalo namin.”
Aside from sweeping JRU in their head-to-head matchup this season, Perpetual Help also notched its 11th victory overall in 15 matches, gaining a share of second spot with host San Beda while forcing at least a playoff for a semifinals berth.
Top local Gab Dagangon overcame a turnover-filled performance as he tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds while Daryl Singontiko, GJ Ilagan and AJ Coronel added at least nine markers each, including timely buckets that enabled the Altas to wipe out a 57-64 deficit in the last 1:25 of play in regulation.
“Gusto ko purihin ang mga players. They did their job and they didn’t give up. Andun pa rin ‘yung puso na gusto nilang manalo. At mas gusto lang rin namin manalo,” beamed Gican.
The loss was a big blow for the Heavy Bombers, who have several chances to close out the Altas in regulation and in the first overtime, only to falter in the end.
Gunner Teytey Teodoro talled 23 markers but failed to sank a pair of potential game-winners, costing JRU to absorb its seventh loss in 16 matches, staying at fifth spot behind fourth-running Mapua (9-5). – Jerome Lagunzad
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UPHSD (89) – Akhuetie 28, Dagangon 15, Singontiko 13, Ilagan 10, Coronel 9, Pido 6,Sadiwa 4, Eze 4, Gallardo 0, Dizon 0.
JRU (80) – Teodoro 23, Grospe 15, Dela Virgen 13, Dela Paz 11, Abdulrazak 6, Pontejos 5, Cruz 4, Mendoza 3, Poutouochi 2, Lasquety 0, Astilla 0.
Quarterscores: 14-11, 27-28, 43-43, 64-64, 74-74, 89-80.