Jose Rizal leaned on its defense when its offense turned sour in the stretch to outlast Mapua, 62-58 on Tuesday to book a spot in the Final Four of the 93rd NCAA basketball tournament at the Filoil Arena in San Juan City.
The Bombers nursed a two-point lead in the final four and half minutes by holding down the Cardinals to just two points the rest of the way to secure their 11th triumph against six setbacks and a return trip to the Final Four after getting ousted last season.
The Kalentong-based dribblers also joined the Lyceum of the Phl U Pirates (16-0) and the San Beda Lions (15-1) in the playoff round.
Teytey Teodoro rediscovered his scoring groove and poured in a game-best 19 points while Jed Mendoza scattered 10 points.
It was, however, defense that spelled the difference.
“We made stops in their last three or four possessions, that really helped us,” said JRU coach Vergel Meneses.
While Teodoro and Mendoza did most of the scoring, Ghana’s AbdulRazak AbdulWahab did the dirty work with 17 rebounds and three blocks.
JRU tackles LPU on Friday, hoping to spoil the latter’s sweep aspiration.
In the second game, Arellano U survived the absence of Kent Salado in the fourth quarter as it trounced San Sebastian, 85-79, to remain in the Final Four hunt.
Salado was on his way to a monster performance with 22 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals before he hurt his right knee with less than nine minutes remaining in the last period and never returned.
Fortunately for AU, Levi dela Cruz and Richard Abanes filled the void by holding their ground as the Chiefs seal their seventh win against nine defeats for a share of fifth spot with the Stags.
Letran is at No. 4 with an 8-8 mark.
Arellano takes on Perpetual Help Wednesday and Mapua next week while San Sebastian faces off with Mapua on Friday and Perpetual Help on Oct. 19.
JRU 62- Teodoro 19, Mendoza 10, Sawat 9, Grospe 8, Lasquety 6, Bordon 4, Abdul Razak 2, Poutouochi 2, David 2, dela Virgin 0
Mapua 58– Orquina 14, Pelayo 11, Bunag 10, Victoria 8, Estrella 8, Raflores 6, Aguirre 1, Gabo 0, Jimenez 0
Quarterscores: 21-17; 36-32; 52-47; 62-58
Arellano 85 – Salado 22, Cañete 15, Dela Cruz 10, Nicholls 9, Viloria 8, Abanes 6, Flores 4, Meca 4, Alcoriza 3, Concepcion 2, Enriquez 2, Taywan 0.
San Sebastian 79 – Bulanadi 14, Ilagan 14, Calma 12, Gayosa 9, Navarro 9, Calisaan 7, Capobres 7, Costelo 3, David 2, Mercado 2, Baetiong 0, Quipse 0, Valdez 0.
Quarters: 20-19, 38-33, 60-52, 85-79.