MANILA, Philippines — Invisible in the first two years following his MVP season in the Juniors, Darius Estrella is now making his presence felt for Jose Rizal University.
Dropping the tiebreaking long-range bomb as well as making the win-sealing defensive play, Estrella lifted the Heavy Bombers to a 61-55 comeback victory versus University of Sto. Tomas on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“Na-accept na niya yung matagal ko nang pinapaliwanag sa kanyang it’s not the Juniors anymore and he has to play within the system,” a proud coach Vergel Meneses said about the incoming second-year swingman who helped improve their team’s record to an even more impressive 5-1.
JRU actually trailed for most of the matchup. “I really challenged them at halftime. Sabi ko, ‘I’m not happy with how you played. I wanna see effort,’” Meneses shared.
The Heavy Bombers finally responded in the middle of the third as their 18-6 surge eroded what was once a nine-point deficit and erected a 53-46 advantage. “Sinabi ko lang sa kanila, ‘We’re not making shots and struggling on offense so we have to work on defense,’” Meneses said.
Christian Garcia kept the Tigers in the game, however, as they tied the tally at 55 with 1:14 remaining.
It was at that point that Estrella wasted no time retaliating and swished a trey from the top of the key. Following a defensive stop, Ervin Grospe then added his own three for a six-point lead for JRU.
UST would not be able to add any more points as in its final play, Estrella deflected a pass and took back possession for the Heavy Bombers.
Estrella, who was the NCAA Juniors MVP in Season 90, ended with seven points and three rebounds. Grospe top-scored for Meneses with 18 points.
Oliver De Guzman paced the Tigers with 17 points. Unable to hold on to their lead, however, they fell to 1-4.
JRU 61 – Grospe 18, Teodoro 10, Estrella 7, Mendoza 5, Dela Virgen 4, Mate 4, Poutuouchi 3, Abdul Wahab 2, Lasquety 2, Mariano 2, Sawat 2, Bordon 2
UST 55 – De Guzman 17, Garcia 13, Sta. Ana 8, Akomo 6, Faundo 4, Escalambre 3, Lee 2, Basibas 2, Huang 0, Caunan 0, Afoakwah 0, Garrido 0
QUARTER SCORES: 15-13, 22-26, 40-42, 61-55
This article originally appeared on the ABS-CBN Sports website.
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