After a marvelous outing in their opening day match-up against fellow Final Four contenders Arellano University, the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers are now in a two-game funk.
Last Tuesday, the Heavy Bombers were up 65-53 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter in their game against the San Sebastian Golden Stags. However, the Stags switched to a full court pressure defense that changed the pace of the game. The press wore-out JRU that resulted to late-game turnovers, rebounding mishaps, and, eventually, an overtime loss 91-89.
San Sebastian head coach, in the post-game conference, said that he felt that the players of Jose Rizal are not disciplined enough to break the press as seen in their last two games. “They are not disciplined enough to handle the pressure,” he said. Vergel Meneses affirmed this statement by Santos: “Di naman naka-epekto yung 11 day break siguro. At this stage, the problem is we don’t take care of the basketball and then we can’t make runs. Yung errors namin mostly nung last quarter.”
“Ganiyan talaga yan, usually when they are up by a big margin you have to adjust. Sila nag full court press sila. Ganun talaga ang mga ginagawa ng mga coach. Ang problema sa amin, we made a lot of mistakes, bad passes, not boxing out. Tuloy ganiyan ang nangyari, we didn’t take care of the basketball plain and simple.”
Moreover, the third place team in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup has been struggling to maintain the pace set by the starters in their two losses. In a surprising move in the game, Meneses started with supersub Paolo Pontejos and Abdulrazak Abdulwahab instead of usual suspects Tey Teodoro and Abdoul Poutuouchi. “I want more rotation kasi long season ito,” the former PBA MVP said regarding the move. “So ang gusto kong mangyari ay magamit yung players from 8 to the bottom of the bench para di gaano magasta mga veterans ko. I just have to give confidence sa mga nasa baba kong players.”
In the closing minutes of regulation and the added time, after outrebounding the Stags for the majority of the game, the much-taller JRU frontline could not contain Michael Calisaan and Bradwyn Guinto that resulted to easy putbacks by the two. The Heavy Bombers were outrebounded 55-47 in the game and six of SSC-R’s 14 second chance points came from late in the fourth quarter and in overtime. Meneses said that he was flabbergasted as to why his big men can’t box out well. “Sila makaka-answer niyan. After a good game nung opening biglang nawala. You have to ask them kung ano ang problema nila,” he said with dismay on his face.
In closing the interview, Meneses gave credit to the grit and heart of the Stags. “Nung nandun na ang momentum, hindi na namin napigilan. They never gave-up! Ang galing! When they were down, their players kept on playing.”
JRU, now 1-2, will look to bounce back on Friday, July 17 against the still listless Emilio Aguinaldo Generals at 2:00pm.