Down by 18 against the Mapua Cardinals with only over three minutes left, the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers could have just folded, but backcourt stars Tey Tey Teodoro and Paolo Pontejos carried the cudgels for the team as they scored an improbable comeback.
Teodoro hit the go-ahead basket under the final eight seconds, blowing past Allwell Oraeme with a spin move before finishing with an up and under layup to complete the miraculous fightback.
Heavy Bombers head coach Vergel Meneses gave his ward praise for their effort, saying the credit should be theirs.
“Instinct na lang ng player yun. Hindi na coaching yun,” Meneses said. “Ayokong dumating sa sitwasyon na naghahabol. It is hard to play catch-up. Sometimes, it’s about the players and their instincts na when it comes to emergency, they do it on their own.”
Teodoro fired 18 of his 32 points in the fourth period, and hit 4-for-9 from three-point area. Meneses calls him a “bigtime player.”
“He carried us. The play is designed for him talaga. Nandoon ang patience niya. Although he is wide open he went for the high percentage basket,” Meneses shared. “Feeling ko wala na talaga. They were so disciplined and were playing defense. But when we came back, [Mapua] lost their composure.”
Teodoro claimed he decided to take over in the end, and he was ready to take the blame if caused JRU the game. But he was the hero as he put his squad ahead, 88-87 before the Heavy Bombers eventually eked out a 90-87 victory.
“Hindi lang kami nag give up. Kami na magdedecide sabi naman ni coach. Kami pa rin ‘yung maglalaro. So kami naging aggressive lang kami,” Teodoro said.
“Yung last shot, inangkin ko na. Ako talaga kukuha ng bola. Nung nareceive ko na ‘yung bola. Last shot e. Kung matalo, ako. Kung manalo, ako.”
Meneses also credited Paolo Pontejos, who scored 16 points including clutch baskets inside the final minute. “I encouraged them to not give up. Si Paolo, nakita ko sa kanya yung leadership,” Meneses said.
Having the desire to lead, Pontejos shared he asked his teammates to just give it a try, and they pulled off the seemingly impossible task.
“All about heart na lang. Yung mga teammates ko, nire-group ko. Sabi ko, tingnan natin kung kaya pa mahabol,” an exhausted Pontejos said. “Good shots naman yung mga tira ko. Sabi ni coach kapag may opportunity, okay lang. Last game kasi yung mga tira ko, wala sa timing.”
Teodoro concluded by saying it was a matter of not giving up as they stayed in attack mode until the final buzzer.
“Puso na lang ang nagdala. Hindi kami nag-give up hanggang matapos. Dun kami mas lalong ginanahan. Sobrang laki ng hinabol namin pero kinaya namin dahil sa pagiging aggressive namin.”