With a tight defensive ploy applied on leading scorer Nate Matute, Heavy Bombers Alex Almario and Byron Villarias came to the rescue as Jose Rizal University stopped the streaking Perpetual Altas, 64-59, in Season 88 of the NCAA at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The loss sent Perpetual to fourth place at 4-2 while the Heavy Bombers now share the top spot with idle San Beda and San Sebastian with similar 4-1 slates.
After a tight battle in the first half, JRU pulled away early in the third through back-to-back baskets from Almario and Michael Mabulac for a 43-35 lead.
But the Altas refused to surrender as Jett Vidal sank a triple towards the end of the third to keep Perpetual within three coming into the final quarter.
The Heavy Bombers managed to up their lead to seven, 60-53, with four minutes left.
Fourth-year guard Chris Elopre, who has been playing under the shadows of Vidal and Scott Thompson this season, came through with clutch points as he banked in a basket at the 1:40 mark to keep Perpetual within three, 61-58.
In the ensuing play, he snatched the leather from Almario as he raced down the court and earned a trip to the line. Elopre split his charities with 16.2 seconds left to cut the JRU lead down to two, 61-59.
But Villarias went one-of-two from the line in the next play, then grabbed a big offensive rebound on his own missed free throw. He got the ball to Matute, who canned two charities to give the Bombers a comfortable 64-59 lead.
“Naging gauge namin ang San Sebastian. We had to bounce back. We’re struggling sa offense namin, mabuti sa depensa pinag-igihan namin,” said JRU coach Vergel Meneses.
Almario and Matute had 12 apiece while Villarias added 10.
Jose Rizal (64) — Almario 12, Matute 12, Villarias 10, Mabulac 8, Lopez 8, Carampil 4, Dela Paz 4, Monserat 4, Camasura 2, Diapera 0.
Perpetual (59) — Vidal 20, Thompson 12, Jolangcob 7, Elopre 5, Arboleda 5, Paulino 4, Babayemi 3, Alano 2, Omorogbe 1, Allen 0, Bitoy 0.
Quarterscores: 19-17, 29-30, 51-48, 64-59.