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JRU nips Mapua, claims semis slot

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Tomorrow
(The Arena, San Juan City)
12 noon – Arellano vs Perpetual (Jrs)
2 p.m. – Arellano vs Perpetual (Srs)
4 p.m. – St. Benilde vs EAC (Srs)
6 p.m. – St. Benilde vs EAC (Jrs)

Jose Rizal University took care of its immediate business against Mapua yesterday, but long-time coach Vergel Meneses was quick to remind the Heavy Bombers that they’re job is still far from done.

“We still have to win our remaining game to maintain the level of confidence we have right now,” he stressed moments after JRU repeated over already eliminated Mapua, 62-58, and clinched a Final Four berth in the 93rd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.

Top gunner Teytey Teodoro fired a game-high of 19 points while Ghanaian big man AbdulRazak AbdulWahab proved solid down low with 17 rebounds and two blocks as the Heavy Bombers flexed enough muscles to hold off the Cardinals’ upset bid.

More importantly, JRU streaked to its fourth straight win, solidified its hold of the third spot with an 11-6 mark and booked a return trip to the semifinals for the fifth time in the last eight years since Meneses, 48, took over the coaching reins from Ariel Vanguardia.

“That’s my challenge to them. Ayaw namin na aasa pa kami sa other teams para makapasok lang. The pressure is there pero ayaw na namin mapunta sa playoff match,” stressed the one-time PBA MVP winner dubbed as “The Aerial Voyager” during his prime.

Meanwhile, Arellano University got back at struggling host San Sebastian, 85-79, to stay in contention for the last semifinal berth.

Diminutive guard Levi Dela Cruz, backup Zach Nichols and Michael Canete took turns in delivering timely buckets down the stretch to help the Chiefs overcome the abrupt exit of top guard Kent Salado midway in the fourth period due to an apparent hyperextended right knee injury.

First Game
JRU 62 – Teodoro 19, Mendoza 10, Sawat 9, Grospe 8, Lasquety 6, Bordon 4, Abdulrazak 2, Poutouochi 2, David 2, Dela Virgen 0.

MAPUA 58 – Orquina 14, Pelayo 11, Bunag 10, Victoria 8, Estrella 8, Raflores 6, Aguirre 1, Gabo 0, Jimenez 0.

Quarters: 21-17, 36-32, 52-47, 62-58.