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Heavy Bombers flatten Knights

Jose Rizal University pounced on a Letran College squad already in cruise mode as it scored an 87-71 victory on Wednesday and capped its campaign in the Season 98 National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament with a bang at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

The loss by Letran meant that the Knights would take the No. 2 spot in the Final Four, behind top seed College of Saint Benilde. Spots three and four belong to Lyceum of the Philippines and San Beda University.

Under the Final Four format, the No. 1 seed—Saint Benilde takes on San Beda—and the No. 2 seed meets Lyceum.

It was a freak win by the Heavy Bombers since they haven’t beaten the Knights since 2017.

The first time the two teams met, Letran took a 101-97 decision.

Still, Knights head coach Bonnie Tan swore it was the quality of the teams taking part in the league that may have caused the upset.

“You can’t underestimate anyone in the Final Four. Comparing Lyceum to JRU, both teams are fast-paced and we had a 1-1 win-loss card against them,” Tan said.

The Blazers finished the eliminations with a 14-4 win-loss card while Letran wound up with a 13-5 ledger. Lyceum and San Beda tote identical 12-6 marks but the Pirates have the superior tiebreak score.

JRU opened the first quarter hot as Joshua Guiab’s jumper with four minutes and 56 seconds in the clock capped an 18-7 run.

“Even before the start of the season, we wanted to prove that we belong in the NCAA. I asked my players what more can they show in the game,” Heavy Bombers head coach Gonzales said.

“We want to commit that if we want to win, we have to put everything on the table, especially their efforts on the court.”

Letran battles Lyceum in their Final Four clash next week.

“Entering this season, we just wanted to get into the Final Four and see what happens. Now that we’re here, we’re going all out in our campaign for the three-peat,” said Tan, who drew 15 points from King Caralipio.

In the first game, Mapua University carved out a 75-67 win over San Sebastian College to end the elimination round on a high note.

Cardinals head coach Randy Alcantara said this game is dedicated to departing players Arvin Gamboa, Jasper Salenga and Jeric Pido, who all have played their last game in the country’s oldest collegiate league.

“I just told the players if they really wanted to win, they need to play defense. This game is for our senior players so we don’t want to embarrass ourselves,” Alcantara said.

“Jasper played well and so did Pido. I’d like to thank them for the effort they showed.”

Paolo Hernandez dropped 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Cardinals as they ended the elimination with a 7-11 record outside of the semifinal picture.

Ichie Altamirano poured out 24 points in his final game for the Stags, who finished at 8-10, as he and Ammar Cosari exhausted their playing years in the NCAA.

The Scores: 

First game

MAPUA (75) — Hernandez 22, Nocum 17, Salenga 14, Bonifacio 7, Agustin 5, Cuenco 3, Igliane 3, Pido 2, Soriano 2, Garcia 0, Mercado 0, Gamboa 0, Lacap 0.

SAN SEBASTIAN (67) — Altamirano 24, Calahat 13, Are 9, Una 8, Aguilar 4, Villapando 2, Sumoda 2, Escobido 2, Suico 2, Paglinawan 0, Concha 0, Cosari 0.

QUARTERS: 6-19, 29-32, 46-51, 75-67.

Second game

JOSE RIZAL (87) — Dela Rosa 22, Dionisio 16, Guiab 14, Delos Santos 11, Miranda 11, Medina 7, Arenal 2, Celis 2, Abaoag 2, De Jesus 0, Tan 0.

LETRAN (71) — Caralipio 15, Paraiso 12, Yu 10, Sangalang 7, Monje 7, Tolentino 7, Javillonar 5, Ariar 4, Santos 4, Reyson 0, Olivario 0, Guarino 0, Miclat 0, Lantaya 0, Bautista 0.

Quarters: 21-15, 48-38, 66-52, 87-71.

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