MAKATI CITY – Manuel L. Quezon University bolstered its playoff drive by stopping Rizal Technological University in overtime, 101-96, at the 16th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) at the Makati Coliseum Friday (September 23). The Stallions can formalize their entry by winning their final game against De Ocampo Memorial College this Sunday (September 25) at the RTU Gym.
Gianne Rivera forced the extra period by scoring on a running shot through the baseline with 19 second left on the clock, 90-90. RTU failed to score in the ensuing possession as the buzzer sounded amidst a mad scramble for the loose ball.
In the overtime, Nikko Lao hit the marginal three-pointer to push MLQU ahead, 93-92. As the Blue Thunder stayed within striking distance, Lao almost became the goat as he stepped on the baseline to return the ball to RTU as they nursed a 98-96 lead with 28 ticks to play.
Luckily for the Stallions, Cyrus Tabi threw the ball away forcing RTU to foul Jeymark Mallari who then split his free throws for more cushion, 99-96. Another failed RTU possession led to a deliberate foul by Storm Riva on Christopher Bitoon who knocked in a free throw to settle the outcome.
Keeping possession, Bitoon was fouled anew by Kerr Bangeles to shoot one more charity for the final tally. It was a tough loss for the Blue Thunder who slowly erased a 10-point deficit at the start of the fourth period and finally seized control via a Riva triple with 25.8 seconds to go.
Lao powered the Stallions with 24 points and 19 rebounds in 41 minutes of play. Bitoon followed with 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Tabi paced the Blue Thunder with 38 points. Bangeles was next with 28 points and seven rebounds.
Suddenly, RTU finds itself in danger of missing the eight-team playoffs for the first time with a 7-6 win-loss record, good for Ninth Place. The Blue Thunder has been consistently in the top four since first joining the NAASCU in 2013.
How They Scored:
MANUEL L. QUEZON (101) – Lao 24, Bitoon 21, Mallari 14, Baliday 13, Rivera 9, Pangan 9, Ignacio 5, Padua 4, Aurelio 2, de la Cruz 0.
RIZAL TECHNOLOGICAL (96) – Tabi 38, Bangeles 28, Senires 12, Estoce 7, Flores 5, Riva 4, Asuncion 2, Liquinan 0, Tilos 0, Banaag 0, Monghit 0, Lagman 0, Reyes 0, Lutia 0.
Period Scores: 17-16, 41-39, 71-61, 90-90 (reg.), 101-96 (OT).