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Stags grind out first win, foil Heavy Bombers

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In a game where both teams pressured each other relentlessly, the SSC-R Stags needed fourth quarter heroics from their backcourt and multiple clutch effort plays in overtime to survive a slobber-knocker over the JRU Heavy Bombers, 91-89 in the NCAA Season 91 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the FilOil Flying-V Arena.

Each team had their turn in squeezing the life out of each other’s ball handlers. JRU’s dedicated fullcourt, man-to-man press shone throughout the first half and early in the third and fourh quarters. SSC eventually figured out the Heavy Bombers’ press then countered with their own full-court, zone press that keyed their comeback attempt.

As they did to start-off the second half, JRU quickly got off to a double-digit run in the fourth period through smart reads off their press and converting easy layups off SSC’s turnovers. After a Jordan Dela Paz triple capped a 9-0 run for the Heavy Bombers, 65-53, SSC regrouped following a timeout and fired off eight consecutive points highlighted by two triples from Ryan Costello, 65-61, leaving 5:00 on the game clock. Following an exchange of baskets, SSC got themselves into the penalty and made questionable fouls that allowed JRU to pull themselves into the lead, 72-68, through free throws from Dela Paz and Grospe with two minutes remaining. A comeback looked even bleaker when Gabe Teodoro buried a foul line jumper that extended their lead to six, 74-68, with 1:49 left. However, Ortuoste revitalized the Baste cause by hitting a long contested trifecta off a timeout, 74-71, then, after Sanchez whiffed on two free throws, SSC tied the game at 74 by making three of their next four free throws that they produced off JRU’s timeouts. JRU regained the lead after Dela Paz found a wide-open Grospe in the ensuing timeout play, 76-74 which Ryan Costello quickly answered after finishing a give-and-go play with Bradwyn Guinto, 76-76, in the last 35 seconds of the game. JRU failed to execute their last ditch play and turned the ball over to SSC that got a missed, hail mary three from Ryan Costello, sending the game into overtime.

The Stags dominated the worn-out Heavy Bombers in the extra period. SSC big men, Bradwyn Guinto and Calisaan capped their game-long, hustle clinic by leading their team’s 9-3 run, 88-79, leaving 1:30 in the game. In that stretch, JRU settled for long jumpers from the cold Paolo Pontejos who missed all of his attempts and scored a single point off a free throw. Pontejos was benched for the entire fourth quarter.

JRU nearly fell backwards into a tie when SSC blew most of their free throws down the stretch. Dela Paz hit from downtown with two seconda left, cutting the SSC lead to one 90-89. In the following play, Ortuoste smartly buried his first charity and missed the second, allowing JRU only a tough full court shot, which they missed.

The SSC big man tandem of Calisaan and Guinto combined for 39 points and 29 boards while Costello scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth period and added nine rebounds.

After the game, Stags head coach Rodney Santos was relieved to get his first NCAA win. “I’m very proud sa mga bata kasi they were down by 11 and they kept their composure. I trust them, everyone inside. Maganda ‘yung endgame nila,” he said. The pressing defense they imposed during the last 15 minutes of the game was a result of their scouting of Jose Rizal’s last game against Letran: “Yes it was. They are not disciplined enough to handle the pressure. And then we transfer to zone if napapagod na players ko.”

SSC-R is now 1-1 while JRU goes down to 1-2. The Stags have the Perpetual Altas next on Friday, July 17 at 12:00nn while JRU looks to bounce back against Emilio Aguinaldo following the game.

The Scores
SSC-R (91) – Calisan 22, Ortuoste 18, Guinto 17, Costelo 15, Fabian 5, Santos 4, Mercado 4, Bulanadi 3, Capobres 2, Bragais 1, Sibal 0, Pretta 0, Vera 0, David 0

JRU (89) – Teodoro 15, Pontejos 14, Dela Paz 12, Grospe 11, Poutuouchi 10, Estrella 5, Balagtas 4, Lasquety 4, Cruz 3, Dela Virgen 3, Abdulwahab 2, Aurin 0

Quarters: 17-20, 34-37, 53-56, 76-76, 91-89

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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