By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
KALENTONG-based Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers try to book a spot in the Final Four of Season 93 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) when they collide today against also-rans Mapua Cardinals in the 2 p.m. curtain-raiser at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Safely perched at number three with a 10-6 record, the Vergel Meneses-coached Bombers are out to make their playoff entry official with another victory.
JRU has won three straight matches to give their campaign a major boost and avoid any complications in its quest to advance to the next round of competition.
The last victory of the Bombers came at the expense of San Sebastian Stags, 60-58, last Friday where they needed to hang tight as the Stags tried to snatch the win.
Cameroonian Abdel Poutouochi and Jed Mendoza stood tough for the Bombers in the fourth quarter, with the former scoring the go-ahead layup with a half a minute to go and finished with 10 points while Mendoza drilled in six of his 14 in the final period.
Ervin Grospe led JRU with 14 points while Teytey Teodoro had 11 markers.
“The players showed toughness today. They wanted to prove that they can compete with the best of them and I’m happy we got this win,” said Mr. Meneses after the win.
Looking to spoil the party for JRU is Mapua (3-12), which is already eliminated in the running but is still looking to finish things on a positive note and have something to build on for the future.
The Cardinals come into contest winning back-to-back matches, after losing 11 straight times.
Mapua defeated the Perpetual Help Altas, 76-71, last Thursday with veteran Andoy Estrella leading the way with 22 points.
Christian Buñag added 19 while Laurenz Victoria finished with 14 points.
In the second game at 4 p.m., San Sebastian Stags and Arellano Chiefs battle it out in a match that carries a lot of playoff implications.
Currently outside of the playoff picture looking in at fifth and sixth, respectively, the Stags (7-8) and Chiefs (6-9) shoot for the important win to remain with enough leverage in their playoff push.
The two teams are trailing the Letran Knights (8-8) for the fourth and final semifinal spot in the tournament.
Meanwhile, CJ Perez of the still-undefeated Lyceum Pirates was once again named the NCAA player of the week after leading his team to its 16th win in as many games in NCAA Season 93 last week.
Perez scored 10 of his 24 points in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter against Letran last Friday to frustrate the latter en route to an 81-69 victory.
In winning the weekly honors given by the NCAA press corps, Perez beat out Mapua’s Estrella, San Beda’s Javee Mocon, JRU’s Mendoza and Arellano’s Kent Salado.