Stags ward off Altas, gain shot at playoff
MANILA, Philippines - Jan Ortuoste went on a scoring splurge in the stretch as San Sebastian clawed its way back to a 71-65 victory over Perpetual Help and clinched at least a playoff for the fourth and last spot in the Final Four in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan last night.
Ortuoste, a rookie from Manila, poured in eight points in the last two minutes for a two-point lead that gave the Stags their 10th victory against eight defeats.
Another win over St. Benilde tomorrow will seal San Sebastian the fourtth and last final spot and the third seed since it will end up tied with the Las Piñas-based school, which finished the double-round elimination with an 11-7 slate.
The win also eliminated Arellano U from the semis race, leaving Emilio Aguinaldo (9-8) to fight San Sebastian for the last ticket to the Final Four.
And Ortuoste had a lot of things to do with it.
“He’s clutch, what can I say,” said San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson of his guard.
In the first game, Emilio Aguinaldo survived a fourth-quarter onslaught by Jose Rizal, hacking out a 78-68 victory to keep its Final Four hopes alive.
After their 11-point lead was cut down to two, 62-64, Josh Paguia came through with clutch baskets in an EAC counter-attack that put Jose Rizal U away for good.
“The boys just showed endgame composure and didn’t panic when Jose Rizal made their move. I have to commend the boys for that,” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana after they notched their ninth win against eight losses.
A win over Mapua on Thursday will give the Generals a chance at catching up with San Sebastian at fourth place.
Paced by Philip Paniamogan and Cris Jordan dela Paz, Jose Rizal mounted a rally, getting back into the thick of things midway through the fourth quarter.
The Bombers, however, were stopped in their tracks as the Generals gained a second wind.
EAC went on to deal JRU its 11th loss against six wins.
Paguia was a big factor for the Heavy Bombers as he scored six of his 11 points in the closing minutes. He also got away with 10 rebounds and two assists.