Nate Matute spent Thursday morning at the United States Embassy, securing a passport for his son. He knew it was going to be a good day.
The Filipino-American from Fresno, California proved his instincts correct, as he scored 29 points points to help Jose Rizal University defeat Arellano University, 77-65, hours later in NCAA Season 88 action at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Matute fired 17 points in the pivotal third period, when his back-to-back three-pointers gave the Heavy Bombers a 50-40 lead after a tight first half.
The Chiefs, who were playing their third game in five days, fought back behind Nard Pinto, Ralph Salcedo and Prince Caperal to cut the JRU lead to just seven points at the end of the third quarter, 59-52.
But the Heavy Bombers wasted no time in the fourth quarter in disposing Arellano, which lost its third straight game. Five straight points from Matute down the stretch followed by a jumper from Alex Almario gave the Mandaluyong quintet its biggest margin of 15 points, 77-62.
JRU coach Vergel Meneses said his team just took advantage of the Chiefs’ tired legs.
“Sa situation ng Arellano, sunod-sunod ang game nila kaya medyo sunog na. Advantage na sa amin yun,” he said.
Meneses said Matute, who also had six rebounds and three assists, and fellow veteran John Lopez are trying to make the most of their limited time in the league.
“Nandun na yung leadership from them since last year na nila ngayon. Last chance na nila ito para iangat yung team,” said the PBA’s Aerial Voyager.
Jose Rizal University (77) – Matute 29, Lopez 12, Villarias 11, Almario 6, Salaveria 4, Mabulac 4, Monserat 4, Carampil 4, Maconocido 3, Porter 0, Munez 0, Camasura 0, Mendoza 0, Dela Paz 0.
Arellano (65) – Pinto 12, Acidre 10, Cadavis 8, Zulueta 8, Hernandez 7, Forrester 7, Bangga 5, Salcedo 4, Capral 4, Valero 0.
Quarters: 21-17, 38-36, 59-52, 77-65