MANILA, Philippines - Jose Rizal fed on an explosive first half offensive and bucked repeated rallies by San Sebastian for an 82-74 victory that kept the Bombers Final Four hopes afloat in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.
Byron Villarias unleashed a game-high 28 points he spiked with a season-high tying eight triples as the Bombers snared their 10th win against seven losses to move just half-a-game behind joint third running Perpetual Help Altas and Letran Knights (10-6).
Jose Rizal survived a second half explosion by Calvin Abueva, who struggled in the early going but finished strong and wound up with 26 points, 20 rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
But the Bombers, who nearly squandered a 20-point bulge at the turn, made the right plays at the right time on both ends down the stretch to preserve the victory while dealing Stags their fifth defeat againt 11 triumphs.
“I’m just happy the players showed character in the end,” said Jose Rizal coach Vergel Meneses.
JRU’s win likewise gave reigning champion San Beda the top seeding with a 14-2 card.
Earlier, Fil-Canadian James Forrester fired 24 points as Arellano U trounced an undermanned Lyceum side, 58-49, in a non-bearing game.
Forrester highlighted his scoring binge with five triples as the Chiefs took control in the second quarter and went on to dominate the Pirates to hike their record to 6-10.
Although out of the Final Four race, Arellano U coach Koy Banal still told his players to play their best.
“Whether it’s a championship game or just a practice match, I always tell players to give it all,” said Banal, who hopes to figure well in the semis race next year with an intact roster.
The Pirates, who have played without Chris Cayabyab, Vence Laude, Mark Francisco and Floricel Guevarra for the third straight game due to academic deficiencies, fell to 3-14.
In juniors’ play, San Sebastian fought off a furious challenge by Jose Rizal as it carved out a 79-70 victory to seize the solo lead and clinch the first twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four with a 15-1 record.
Arellano U routed Lyceum, 125-36, in another non-bearing contest to improve to 7-9.
Jose Rizal fell to 6-11 while Lyceum took its 16th straight loss.
MANILA, Philippines – Jose Rizal overcame a furious fightback by San Sebastian in the fourth quarter as it eked out an 82-77 victory yesterday to clinch a Final Four berth in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City Monday.
The Bombers will clinch a spot in the Final Four for even if they end up in a three-way tie with Perpetual Help and College of St. Benilde at third and fourth places with 12-6 (win-loss) slates because of a higher quotient tiebreak.
It marked the first time that the Kalentong-based dribblers will make it to the Final Four since making it that far three years ago.
"It's nice to be back in the Final Four, the players wanted it," said Jose Rizal coach Vergel Meneses.
But Jose Rizal nearly blew it though after seeing a once-mighty 60-37 lead in the third quarter vanish.
The Stags woke up after their coach Topex Robinson was tossed out in the third canto and launched a series of torrid runs that saw them inching closer to 79-76 with less than a minute to go.
The Bombers then held the Stags to just a point the rest of the way while Philip Paniamogan sank the free throws that sealed the deal.
Paniamogan ended up with a game-high 24 points including 10 from the foul line.
"He's one of the leaders of this team and he showed it especially in the crucial part of the game," said Meneses of Paniamogan.
San Beda returned to familiar territory, while Arellano broke new ground.
Proving equal to the challenge at crunchtime, the Red Lions and Chiefs forged a championship duel last night with gutsy victories in the Final Four of the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Red Lions built enough cushion to hold off a late Perpetual Help rally with an 81-75 triumph that rewarded San Beda with a ninth straight finals appearance while the Chiefs turned back the Jose Rizal U Bombers, 72-65, to reach the finals for the first time since joining the league in 2009.
As the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, the Red Lions and Chiefs were armed with a twice-to-beat edge. It turned out they didn’t need it as both teams came out strong in the final quarter to preserve their early advantage.
“It’s a dream come true for all of us in the entire Arellano community,” said Arellano coach Jerry Codiñera, in only his first season at the helm.
“It’s nice to be back in the finals,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, whose team is seeking a fifth straight title.
Game 1 of the best-of-three finals is at 4 p.m. on Monday at Mall of Asia Arena.
American Dioncee Holts notched 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but it was Jiovani Jalalon who delivered the telling blows, scoring the last five points of the Chiefs, while putting the clamps on a red-hot Jaycee Asuncion down the stretch.
The Lions nearly squandered a 26-point lead in the first half as the Altas came within five points, 75-80, in the last 20 seconds, before Baser Amer iced the game with a split from the free throw line.
SAN BEDA 81—A. Semerad 18, Amer 17, Adeogun 13, Mendoza 12, Dela Cruz 11, Pascual 6, Koga 2, Tongco 2, Sara 0, Abude 0, D. Semerad 0.