In a rematch of last season’s semifinals series, the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers displayed great interior passing and pressing defense in a statement win against the Arellano University Chiefs, 78-61, to open their NCAA campaign at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Saturday afternoon.
The first quarter was a close one as both teams traded baskets en route to a 15-all deadlock after a floater by national team player Jio Jalalon. Abdoul Poutouochi then responded with an underhand lay-up of his own and a fastbreak conversion by Tey Teodoro gave JRU a four point lead. However, a three pointer by Zachary Nicholls and a free throw by Michael Salado tied the game at 19-all to end the quarter.
During the second quarter, the pressing defense of the Heavy Bombers suffocated the Chiefs offense that resulted to turnovers and a bunch of contested shots. Gio Lasquety led the charge for the Heavy Bombers on offense in scoring four points in an 8-0 run. Moreover, the Chiefs became over anxious on defense that resulted to the team being in the penalty in as early as the 7:28 mark of the quarter. Arellano was only able to punch in their first field goal of the game at the 6:20 mark behind a three pointer by Donald Gumaru. The Heavy Bombers continued to push the pace with Abdulwasak Abdulwahab scoring six straight points in a furious rally that helped extend their lead to 40-28 to end the quarter. Moreover, the Heavy Bombers were able to attempt 18 free throws in the first half alone, with 12 conversions, compared to just the seven attempts of their opponents, who only made one.
After halftime, the Jerry Condinera-mentored squad switched to a full court press defense but JRU was able to adjust quickly. In addition, constant turnovers by last season’s runner-up in the NCAA tournament doomed the team as the JRU lead blew to 66-41 in the third stanza. The Heavy Bombers exploded on offense as well in scoring 26 points as the team made the extra pass to free up their big man below. Poutouochi scored 11 points in the game breaking quarter.
Arellano showed glimpses of hope in the final quarter but their effort came too late as the lead was insurmountable. With just five seconds to go in the quarter, and with JRU holding a 78-61 lead, Arellano’s Gumaru was ejected after he punched Poutouochi in the back. Fortunately, the officials were on top of the situation. The ejection will result to a one game suspension for Gumaru.
After the game, JRU head coach downplayed the emphatic win by his squad, “we just had a good game, we moved the ball well to look for the open guy.”
Abdoul Poutouochi led all scorers with 23 points and added 11 rebounds. 11 players scored for JRU as well. For the Chiefs, Michael Salado led the team with 15 points while Allen Enriquez grabbed a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. Jio Jalalon was still feeling the effects of his right should injury sustained in the SEA Games as he only played 20 minutes and scoring just four points and committing seven turnovers.
As a team, both teams shot poorly with JRU shooting 39% while AU shot a dismal 32%. JRU outrebounded the Chiefs 57-44 with 26 coming from the offensive glass. Finally, the most glaring stat was the Heavy Bombers’ 19 assists on 30 made field goals.
The Heavy Bombers next face the Letran Knights at 4:00pm on Friday, July 3 while the Chiefs play the LPU Pirates on the same day at 12:00nn. Both games will be played at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
JRU (78) – Poutouochi 23, Teodoro 11, Abdul Wahab 9, Lasquety 8, Sanchez 7, Dela Paz 6, Grospe, 6 Pontejos 4, Cruz 2, Aurin 2, Astilla 0, Dela Virgen 0
AU (61) – Salado 15, Holts 11, Enriquez 10, Cadavis 8, Gumaru 5, Bangga 5, Jalalon 4, Nichols 3, Meca 0, Ongolo 0, Ortega 0, De Guzman 0, Zamora 0, Tano 0.
Quarterscores: 19-19, 40-28, 66-41, 78-61