NCAA: Lopez down low lifts JRU over Mapua
The Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers showed nerve and grit come crunch time as they subdued an undermanned Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals squad, 65-64, Saturday, in the other opening day game of the 88th NCAA men's seniors basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Cardinals’ rookie playmaker Andrew Estrella nailed big-time shots all throughout the fourth quarter, with his last attempt tying the game at 64-all, but veteran power forward John Lopez made a go-ahead free throw on the other end with less than a minute left.
Mapua then had several chances to steal the game. In the last sequence, Andretti Stevens missed a wild look at the basket, but Kenneth Ighalo was there for the repossession, and though he was right at the rim, he missed his shot as well, allowing the Heavy Bombers to hang on for the opening day win.
The tightly-contested game had eight deadlocks and 11 lead changes, with JRU sticking to its formula of getting turnover points, notching 22 to Mapua's 15.
“It’s just a lucky win,” said Heavy Bombers mentor Vergel Meneses, a former Philippine Basketball Association Most Valuable Player in 1995. “We are not the usual Heavy Bombers. We are not aggressive tonight.”
The JRU Heavy Bombers had a seven-point lead, 21-14, at the end of first quarter, but an undermanned Mapua quintet refused to go away, seizing the initiative from their rivals multiple times.
One bright spot for the Cardinals was newcomer Estrella, who manned the point guard position like a veteran. He scored eight of his 22 markers in the fourth period, including two big triples that kept Mapua in the thick of things late. Last year's Rookie of the Year Josan Nimes tallied 13, six coming in the first quarter.
JRU captain John Lopez, who is playing his final year, racked up 20 points, while sharpshooter Nate Matute chipped in 16, together with sophomore John Villarias who got 11 markers, as the Heavy Bombers joined the Letran Knights in the win column early.
“I expect my players to play like every game a championship game. This is only our first game,” added Meneses. “We’re not that strong. We have to play hard on defense for 40 minutes if we want to keep winning.”
Mapua was without four newcomers, including two former UAAP players in Gab Banal and Joseph Eriobu, due to residency issues.
JRU next sees action on Thursday, against the Arellano Chiefs at 5:30pm, while Mapua lines-up again a week from then, on July 5, versus the CSB Blazers at the same time. - AMD, GMA News
JRU 65 – Lopez 20, Matute 16, Villarias 11, Monserat 5, Mabulac 4, Carampil 4, Camasura 3, Dela Paz 2, Almario 0, Mendoza 0, Maconocido 0, Salaveria 0, Porter 0.
MIT 64 – Estrella 22, Nimes 13, Ighalo 9, Chien 7, Stevens 7, Parala 3, Banal 2, Abad 1, Cantos 0, Layug 0.
Quarter scoring: 21-14, 36-39, 48-50, 65-64
Inboundpass has been covering collegiate basketball for six years. For more NCAA stories and information, check out inboundpass.com and follow Inboundpass on Twitter at @inboundpass