If Jose Rizal U fails to make it to the Final Four round of the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney, the Heavy Bombers will look back with regret on their loss to the Perpetual Altas.
JRU coach Vergel Meneses admitted poor decision making did the Heavy Bombers in when they absorbed a heart-breaking 80-89 setback to the Altas on Friday afternoon, dealing a big blow to their semifinals drive.
The Heavy Bombers appeared on the way to victory when they took a 64-57 lead off Teytey Teodoro’s triple with 1:25 left in regulation. But they suddenly broke down, allowing the Altas to score seven unanswered points to force the first extra five-minute period.
“We’re up by seven with more than a minute left. Uubusin na lang niyan ‘yung oras,” Meneses told FOX Sports at the players’ entrance at the back of The Arena in San Juan City. “If you made a mistake, pagbaba, defensive stop na lang (ang gagawin mo).”
Meneses also sounded critical of how Teodoro took a pair of hurried attempts in the closing seconds of regulation and in the first overtime that could have allowed JRU to escape with the victory.
“Poor decision making on the part of Teodoro. Doon nagsimula ‘yun,” he said. “We could have won in regulation and in the first overtime but we cannot make a defensive stop, we cannot get the rebound while they (Altas) are diving for the loose balls.”
The loss could be a bitter pill to swallow for Meneses since JRU dropped to 9-7, allowing fourth-running Mapua (9-5) to gain one full-game lead in what has been a tight race for a Final Four berth.
“Slim chance na ‘yan,” admitted Meneses, who’s on the verge of missing his second semis trip since assuming the JRU post in 2009.
“If nanalo kami ngayon, malaki pa tsansa. Kaso hindi. I don’t think Mapua will let this slip away. They’ve got a big chance and they are playing really well.”
It was JRU’s only second loss in the second round after dropping a 60-63 decision to Emilio Aguinaldo College last August 30, but Meneses considered their latest setback “the most painful.”
“Ito ‘yung pinakamasakit talaga. Okay lang ‘yun sa EAC kasi makita mo the whole game maganda ang nilaro ng EAC,” he said.
“Ito naman almost a won ballgame na. Sa akin hindi ko na palulusutin ‘yun. Patay na yan. Sayang lang talaga.”
Meneses also echoed the observation of his Perpetual Help counterpart Jimwell Gican that the Altas really wanted it more in the crunch.
“Totoo ‘yun,” he said. “Even though they were down by 7 points, andun pa rin sila. Maybe we got frustrated. Pero hindi ganun laruin ang basketball. We should have been smarter down the stretch.” – Jerome Lagunzad
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