In a battle of two teams that utilize the full court press, the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers forced the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors to 26 turnovers that led to 26 fastbreak points in a 76-67 win to advance to the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup semifinals Wednesday afternoon.
Both teams turned up the pace in the first quarter of the game. Both teams broke each other’s pressing defense with ease that led to easy points on broken defenses. Cameroonian center Abdel Poutouochi and Dave Sanchez paced the Heavy Bombers in the quarter while RR De Leon and Jordan Sta. Ana paced the Red Warriors. With the game tied with nine seconds remaining in the quarter, Sta. Ana was able to drive and connect with a layup to give UE a 19-17 lead.
Back-to-back turnovers by the UE Red Warriors led to fastbreak conversions by Ervin Gorospe and Jordan Dela Paz to gain a 21-19 lead early in the second. However, former NU Bullpup Philip Manalang managed to quell the rally with a long jumper coming from a screen. Unfortunately, the screen also knocked Gio Lasquety down – the JRU guard had to be taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons but was said to be in good condition. Slowly, the Heavy Bombers were able to force UE into turnovers that led to conversions to take a 36-30 lead with 1:41 remaining in the quarter. Razak Abdulwahab then took advantage of the undersized UE squad in the closing seconds of the game in converting with an and-1 to give JRU a 42-35 lead.
After a dismal first half by spitfire guard Paolo Pontejos, Pontejos took charge in the third quarter. The former Red Lion scored nine straight points to extend the JRU lead to ten. RR de Leon scored four straight points to try to halt the JRU rally but free throws by Dela Paz and a layup by Marco Balagtas sustained the 10-point lead going into the fourth.
In the final quarter, the Heavy Bombers stopped any momentum the Red Warriors were trying to gain as they went point-for-point with their opponents. Even with JRU going into the penalty in the latter part of the game, UE was unable to take advantage of it in missing the free throws given to them. Pontejos put the dagger in the game with a free shot coming from a dime by Dela Paz.
After the game, JRU head coach Vergel Meneses told us that he reminded his team after halftime that defense was what brought them there. “Sabi ko sa mga bata defense ang nagdala sa amin sa point na ito, ‘yun ang ginawa namin to win this game.”
Moreover, even with Tey Teodoro nursing an injury his sustained in their last game, Teodoro’s will could not keep him off the court. Meneses had no other choice but to bring him in during the last quarter of the game. “He got hurt last game but sabi niya sa kin ‘Coach, gusto ko maglaro.’ I put him in and he knocked down a huge jumper to extend our lead,” the former PBA MVP told us.
The JRU Heavy Bombers will wait for the results of the SBC/CSJL game to see who they face in the semifinals on Friday, June 12.
JRU 76 – Pontejos 23, Dela Paz 20, Sanchez 8, Poutouochi 8, Abdulwahab 8, Teodoro 4, Gorospe 2, Balagtas 2, Lasquety 1, Aurin 0, Dela Virgen 0, David 0
UE 67 – De Leon 12, Batiller 11, Varilla 9, Javier 8, Sta. Ana 8, Manalang 6, Awana 4, Penuela 3, Charcos 2, Gonzales 2, Gagate 2, Guiang 0