On point Pontejos keeps JRU in Final Four hunt

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 18, 2015 06:55 PM
On point Pontejos keeps JRU in Final Four hunt
STAYING ALIVE. JRU is still in contention for the Final Four thanks to Paolo Pontejos.

With Colegio de San Juan de Letran turning everything into their trademark “magulo” basketball, Jose Rizal University turned to one man to restore order and keep them in contention in the 91st Season of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

A gorgeous stepback trey by Paolo Pontejos sparked the decisive run that stopped the rallying Knights dead in their tracks and pushed the Heavy Bombers to an 86-80 win on Friday at the San Juan Arena.

After three quarters wherein they did not look like themselves, the Knights finally turned up their patented press and snatched away the lead, 70-69, early in the final frame. Letran had a chance to add to their advantage, but a defensive stop ignited a fastbreak with Pontejos leading the charge for JRU.

Felix Apreku ran back to defend and stood right in front of Pontejos, but the senior gunslinger stepped back to create the opening he needed to launch a triple that felt nothing but net. The beautiful trey fronted a decisive 13-2 run that gave the Bombers an 82-72 edge inside the last three minutes.

The Knights scored five unanswered points to get to 77-82 with 41.8 seconds remaining and found an even wider opening with Dave Sanchez muffing two charities, but Abdel Poutouochi collared the rebound and made his free throws to seal the deal.

Pontejos bombed down nine of his 21 points in the last 10 minutes and as a team, JRU hit 55 percent of their shots to move just outside the top five at 9-6. Talking about his resurgent guard, coach Vergel Meneses said in his post-game conference, “Andun na yung game niya. He just needs to be consistent.”

Kevin Racal showed the way for Letran with 23 markers while Mark Cruz had 17 points, but none in the fourth. With their first-ever second loss in a row, the Knights are no longer league-leaders with an 11-4 record.

BOX SCORES

JRU 86 - Pontejos 21, Grospe 13, Estrella 11, Dela Paz 10, Teodoro 9, Poutouochi 8, Abdulwahab 5, Sanchez 4, Cruz 3, Astilla 2, Aurin 0, Balagtas 0, Dela Virgen 0.

LETRAN 80 - Racal 23, Cruz 17, Nambatac 12, Sollano 8, Balanza 6, Apreku 4, Luib 4, Calvo 3, Publico 3, Gedaria 0, Balagasay 0, Quinto 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 25-15, 48-40, 64-62, 86-80.

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