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Bombers shock Knights, keep Final 4 hopes alive

Games Tuesday
(The Arena in San Juan)
10 a.m. Perpetual Help vs San Sebastian (jrs)
12 nn JRU vs LPU (jrs)
2 p.m. Perpetual Help vs San Sebastian (srs)
4 p.m. JRU vs LPU (srs)

 

JOHN Pontejos hit 21 points, including 9 crucial ones in the final period as the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers turned the tables on the Letran Knights, 86-80, Friday and kept their Final Four hopes alive in the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament at the Arena in San Juan.

Pontejos unloaded a triple and a jumper with 5:21 left, allowing the Heavy Bombers to move away, 74-70, en route to the win.

The Heavy Bombers, improved to fifth at 9-6, and with three crucial games headed their way, they moved behind the Arellano University Chiefs and the Mapua Cardinals, and could snatch a Final Four seat, if any of the two lose in their remaining matches.

The Knights, led by Kevin Racal with 23, dropped to second at 11-4, while the San Beda Red Lions took the solo lead again at 11-3.

Meanwhile, the Mapua Cardinals drew big baskets from Mark Brana and Justin Serrano down the stretch to stun the Arellano University Chiefs, 81-76.

Fighting their way back from a 12-point deficit in the third period, the Cardinals overtook the Chiefs halfway in the fourth period, leaning on the charity shots of Serrano and John Nieles to claim their 10th win in 15 matches.

For the second straight game, Allwell Oraeme finished with another monster game, this time scoring 15 points and hauling 30 rebounds.

With Oraeme controlling the boards, the Cardinals forced the Chiefs to numerous turnovers in the fourth, tying the match, 66-all, on Brana’s layup.

They then moved away on a 10-2 run which Serrano and Darren Menina led with their driving shot and triple, gaining a 76-68 spread with 1:33 left.

“We started very slow. Very, very slow. That was our topic after the first half. And just like that, we came in strong again, and did what was right,” said Cardinals’ assistant coach Ed Cordero, who is charge while head coach Atoy Co is serving a two-game suspension.

The Chiefs lost Donald Gumaru following a bad fall in the last 41.7 seconds while trying to stop Serrano, whose two charities in the ensuing play handed the Cardinals a 78-73 edge.

In another senior game, the University of Perpetual Help Altas wasted little time in disposing of the College of St. Benilde Blazers, 70-47, and stayed within reach of a Final Four seat.

Earl Thompson came up with his sixth triple double-double of the season, banging in 21 points and hauling down 10 rebounds for the Altas, who posted their 10th win in 14 games, and are third.

“Hindi pa tayo nakakasiguro.  Kailangan natin ang panalo na ito. So, iyun, nag-trabaho sila,” said Altas coach Aric del Rosario.

In the junior division, the Mapua Red Robins drew 23 points and 18 points from Romuel Junsay and Michael Enriquez, respectively, as they frustrated the Arellano Braves, 86-73, for their 14th straight win. They stayed in second place at 14-1.

Ricci Rivero unloaded 38 points to lead La Salle Greenhills to an 83-58 smashing of the Perpetual Help Junior Altas and stay in contention for the Final Four at 9-6.

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