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Clutch over clutch as Pontejos, JRU escape Jalalon, Arellano

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In an epic double overtime thriller that had great performances and dramatic sequences, the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers escaped the Arellano University (AU) Chiefs, 114-112, after a fortunate break, to tie the Chiefs at fourth place Thursday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

Smart Elite ambassador Jio Jalalon had a forgetful first half as he was plagued with foul trouble. The Cagayan de Oro-native had already accumulated two personal fouls at the 5:11 mark of the first while getting penalized for his third foul at the 8:03 point of the second quarter. Fortunately for Season 90’s runners-up, Dioncee Holts and Zach Nicholls stepped up in scoring 10 and 7 points respectively in the first half to keep pace with JRU. For the yellow-and-blue squad, Abdoul Poutouchi played excellent in scoring nine first half points and grabbed nine rebounds while the backcourt duo of Tey Teodoro and Paolo Pontejos combined for 12 points. The Heavy Bombers held a 40-35 lead after the opening half.

The second half of action started on a blistering pace as both teams scorched the net from downtown with JRU holding a 47-43 lead. Jalalon, who was just limited to just three points and four assists in seven minutes of first half action, then made his imprint of the game in scoring eight straight points capped by back-to-back triples to put his team up 53-49 at the midway point of the third canto. Cameroonian big man Poutouchi then powered his way inside to tie the game at 55. The quarter closed with a showdown by gunslingers Jalalon and Pontejos. Pontejos was able to score six straight points, all from floaters, to put his team up four points but a three pointer by “the Bus Driver”, his fourth in the quarter, cut the lead to just one. The quarter, though, would end with the Heavy Bombers clinging on to a three point lead, 66-63, after a nice drop pass by Pontejos to his big man.

The two squads then exchanged bombs and leads to start the final quarter of regulation. However, at the 4:30 mark of the game, Jalalon hurt his left ankle after a nifty assist to Nichole Bangga to tie the game at 78. Pontejos then unleasheda 7-2 rally, all on his own, to put his team up 84-81. The Smart Elite ambassador, knowing that his team needs him, returned to the game after just 1:58 minutes of rest. He then powered his team once more but a backbreaking three pointer by Pontejos at the 1:34 mark gave the Vergel Meneses-mentored squad a four point cushion. With just 35.4 ticks to go, Jalalon converted on a floater and made a huge defensive stop as Pontejos was called for a travelling infraction with 32.6 remaining. At the ensuing play, the daredevil from Cagayan slashed to the lane to grab a foul from Poutouchi. Jalalon calmly sank the two free throws to send the game into overtime at 87-all.

The two squads continued to fight hard in overtime as both teams did not budge from their opponent’s short rallies. After a long jumper by Dioncee Holts at the 2:42 mark of extra time that gave Arellano a 97-92 lead, Jordan Dela Paz converted on a jumper while free throws by Teodoro cut the lead to just one with 1:20 to go. Jalalon splitted charities, after an Abdulwahab foul, to give his team a two point lead. However, a mishap on offense by the Chiefs resulted to a steal by Teodoro. Teodoro then threw an outlet pass to Dela Paz for a fastbreak layup to send the game into another five minutes of extra time at 98-all.

Fatigue was visible as both teams could not convert on free throws at the opening moments of the game. As the Chiefs clinged on to a one point lead after free throw conversions by Kristian Astilla, a tired Jalalon fell to his knees and cramped up. After a long jumper by Holts, Pontejos torched his defenders in scoring six points highlighted by a huge three pointer to give JRU a three point lead. Jalalon returned at the 1:22 mark. A three-pointer by Nicholls tied the game once more but free throws by Astilla and Gio Lasquety gave the Shaw Boulevard-based squad a 110-107 with 43.9 ticks to go. After a timeout, Jalalon found a way to hand-off the ball to Nicholls for another three pointer with 32.7 seconds remaining. Even in having a bad shooting night, Teodoro held the ball and threw a long jumper to give his team the lead. After a pull-up three pointer by Jalalon that “cut” the lead to just “one”, Jalalon immediately fouled Lasquety resulting to his ejection. In a crucial review, the referee’s decreed that the long jumper by Teodoro was just a two-pointer. The coaching staff of Arellano threw their hands in disappointment as they would not have fouled if they had knew that the three-pointer was just a two. Lasquety sank both free throws to give Jose Rizal University its sixth win of the season. 114-112.

After the game, coach Vergel Meneses was relieved to get the win. “It’s a big win for us,” an exhausted Meneses said. He also added that he was waiting for Pontejos to explode all season long. “Matagal ko ng hinihintay yun. Nung Fr. Martin’s Cup and Filoil ang ganda ng nilalaro niya. Consistency lang talaga.” Pontejos and Dela Paz shared the same sentiments that they should be consistent all throughout the second round.

The game though was put under protest by the management of Arellano University due to the final plays of the game.

Paolo Pontejos led the Heavy Bombers with 32 points on 14/23 shooting. He also dished out a season-high eight assists. Abdoul Poutouchi, who fouled out at the second overtime, put up a huge double-double with 21 points and 17 rebounds while Smart Elite ambassador Tey Teodoro scored 16 points (5/17 shooting, 5/5 free throws) and dished out five assists.

The Chiefs were led by Jio Jalalon’s 36 points, seven rebounds, 16 assists and two steals. Dioncee Holts and Zachary Nicholls combed for 41 points in the losing cause.

The Heavy Bombers next face the San Beda Red Lions on Thursday, September 3 at 4:00pm while the Chiefs face the Perpetual Altas on the same day at 2:00pm.

The Scores:
JRU (114) – Pontejos 32, Poutouochi 21, Teodoro 16, Astilla 10, Dela Paz 10, Cruz 9, Lasquety 8, Dela Virgen 3, Sanchez 2, Grospe 1, Abdul Wahab 1, Estrella 0.
AU (112) – Jalalon 36, Holts 21, Nicholls 20, Enriquez 10, Bangga 9, Cadavis 6, Meca 5, Salado 3, Ortega 2, Capara 0, Gumaru 0.
Quarterscores: 19-21, 40-35, 66-63, 87-87, 98-98, 114-112.

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