Jeff Sapinit was looking for his range from the three-point line early in the game.
And when he did, the 19-year-old Sapinit and two other teammates struck hard from the outside to power the Mapua Red Robins to a 70-63 smashing of the San Sebastian Staglets at the Arena in San Juan.
Sapinit, a transferee from Far Eastern University, went on to finish with only nine points, but his contributions helped carry the Red Robins to their fifth straight triumph in the 93rd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) junior basketball tournament.
“Mahirap na panalo. Yung depensa. Maganda and defense ng Baste. Sa 2-3 defense nila kami nahirapan. Yung three points, sa huli na nag-click,” said Red Robins coach Randy Alcantara.
The Red Robins saw a 15 point lead vanish in the third period, after Staglets Jessie Sumoda, Romel Calahat and Damie Cuntapay combined for 13 points, to stay close, 48-53, at the end of the quarter.
Then, triples from Carl Lacap, Clint Escamis and Sapinit, who had two, allowed the Red Robins to pull away, 65-54, with 3:59 to go.
Lacap hit 12 points for the Red Robins, who now share the lead with the La Salle Greenhills Junior Blazers, while Escamis had 11.
JRU Light Bombers 77 – San Beda Red Cubs 70
The JRU Light Bombers, behind a triple from John Amores, stunned the defending champion San Beda Red Cubs with a rare upset, 77-70.
Javine Serrano banged in 23 points to lead JRU to their first triumph in five outings.
The Red Cubs, with Peter Alfaro making 22 points, trail with their 3-2 record.
This was the Light Bombers first win over the Red Cubs in three season.
The Light Bombers surprised the Red Cubs when they moved away from 65-all tie off Kobe Caballero's drive and Amores' try with 1:22 remaining.
JRU took advantage of two miscues by the Red Cubs in the remaining, they moved further ahead on the charity shots of Sicat and Caballero.
Amores banged in 10 of his 15 points in the final canto.
“Nagulat sila sa amin nung first. Nag-relax kasi wala pa kaming panalo,” said JRU coach Vic Lazaro.
LPU Junior Pirates 89 – Perpetual Help Junior Altas 86
The Lyceum Junior Pirates banked on a triple from Neil Ruiz with 55.4 ticks to go to put away the Perpetual Help Junior Altas, 89-86, and claimed their third win in five matches.
Ruiz's trey shattered an 86-all deadlock, and gave the Junior Pirates to establish a three-point cushion in the ensuing play.
The Junior Altas bungled their chance to catch up when Errol Bongay missed his two freebies, and the Junior Pirates forced three turnovers in the remaining time.
“He(Ruiz) hit that clutch shot. That's what he does during a crucial stretch for us,” said Junior Pirates coach LA Mumar.
Vincent Cunanan towed the Junior Pirates with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Mclaude Guadana added 15 points and nine rebounds.