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Catching fire! Pontejos lifts Heavy Bombers past Altas in crucial game



When the going gets tough, Paolo Pontejos gets going.

The Jose Rizal University hotshot exploded in the second half as the Heavy Bombers completed a huge turnaround to repulse University of Perpetual Help, 62-60 Friday in the NCAA Season 91 basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Arena.

Pontejos dropped 16 of his 19 points in the third frame alone, where the Heavy Bombers outscored the Altas, 29-14.

The Heavy Bombers then tightened up defensively towards the end to prevail and improve to fifth spot in the team standings with a 10-6 card overall, staying in the hunt for the Final Four.

The Altas remained in third place after the setback at 11-5.

The Altas broke loose from a tight first quarter after closing the opening period on a 10-4 run to hold a 17-11 lead. Perpetual’s full court trap allowed them to stop the Heavy Bombers from scoring easily.

In the second quarter, Prince Eze made impact on both ends of the floor, protecting the rim and scoring underneath the rim while the rest of the team added baskets in transition to give Perpetual a double-digit advantage at 38-24.

But Ervin Grospe made three baskets to open the third frame, before Paolo Pontejos caught fire for JRU, exploding for 16 straight points to bring back the Heavy Bombers in the game and take the 48-47 lead.

It was a see-saw affair from that point, although a triple by Gerald Dizon followed by a basket by Bright Akhuetie underneath made it 59-56 for the Altas in the fourth quarter.

But a 6-1 run behind Abdul Poutuouchi and Grospe gave JRU back the lead at 62-60 with only less than three minutes remaining.

The Heavy Bombers was able to control possession down the wire, not giving the Altas any opportunity to steal the game as their pesky defense held Perpetual without a field goal for over seven minutes.

Perpetual had one final chance to win the game with only 1.1 seconds left but a beyond the arc attempt by Dizon failed to hit the mark.

“Two more games, two more games! If we play just like how we played against the Letran Knights, not in this game, we have a chance,” an enthusiastic Vergel Meneses said after the game. “Yung first quarter and first half namin, mapapamura ka na lang talaga. All layups ang Perpetual.” But during the third quarter, Paolo Pontejos lifted the Heavy Bombers with 16 big points. “Yun yung big run namin. That’s a huge run by Paolo that brought us back into the game.”

Finally, even in grabbing a double-double, Meneses is expecting Poutuouchi to do more. “Iba sana yung complexion ng laro pag nandiyan siya [Abdulwahab Abdulrazak]. Nagkadengue kasi yung lamok sa kanya. I mean nagkadengue kasi siya.” “I’m expecting more from him because I know he is better than this.”

Paolo Pontejos led all scorers with 19 huge points, 16 coming from the third canto. He was 7/14 from the field, 2/6 from rainbow country. Poutouochi, Teodoro, and Grospe added 12 markers each with Smart Elite ambassador Teodoro shooting just 4/17 from the field but added four boards and two dimes. Poutouochi grabbed ten rebounds as well.

For the Las Pinas-based squad, Gerald Dizon led the team with 12 points. Smart Elite ambassador Scottie Thompson played a game-high 37 minutes. He notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards while adding six dimes.

The Heavy Bombers (10-6) will look to sustain their streak against the Lyceum Pirates on Tuesday, September 29 at 2:00pm while t he Perpetual Altas (11-5) will look to bounce back against the San Sebastian Stags on the same day at 4:00pm.

The Scores:

JRU (62) – Pontejos 19, Poutouochi 12, Teodoro 12, Grospe 12, Lasquety 4, Cruz 2, Dela Virgen 1, Astilla 0, Sanchez 0, Balagtas 0, Dela Paz 0, Estrella 0

UPHSD (60) – Dizon 15, Thompson 12, Akhuetie 9, Dagangon 7, Eze 6, Coronel 4, Gallardo 4, Oliveria 3, Ylagan 0, Tamayo 0, Sadiwa 0

Quarters: 11-17, 26-38, 55-52, 62-60