MANILA, Philippines — Don’t just pencil in another Lyceum-San Beda finals in the NCAA. You may just have to consider the College of St. Benilde (CSB) Blazers as a contender.
CSB is now at 4-0 in Group B of the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup after rallying for a 74-69 win over hard-luck Arellano University (AU).?
The Arellano Chiefs led, 66-59, after a Rence Alcoriza triple with 3:48 left to play. The Chiefs prematurely celebrated after having harassed and outplayed CSB for much of the game. The Blazers, with their newfound confidence and a system that works for them, dropped a crippling 15-3 bomb to take the win in their closest shave thus far in this tournament. ?
With some of the mainstays struggling, Justin Gutang and Yankee Haruna lifted the team with their putbacks and free throws while Arellano self-destructed after three passing turnovers. Those three errors in the final 53 seconds led to six points for CSB which eventually figured as the difference.?
“If people think that Arellano isn’t still good without Kent Salado (who is still recovering from a knee injury that will most likely keep him out of the upcoming NCAA season), they have another thought coming,” noted CSB coach TY Tang.
“I feel we didn’t play to our potential. We played to their tempo. The Chiefs forced us into a lot of turnovers. But a win is a win. I saw the heart of wanting to win. We just didn’t want to lose,” he added.?
Earlier in the game, it seemed as if CSB would blow out AU when they took an early 11-4 lead. However, the Chiefs methodically chipped away at the lead and were down 24-21 after the first period, and then 42-40, at the half. ?
The Chiefs finally got to taste the lead at 49-48 after Guilmer Dela Torre scored on a lay-up. Both sides battled through five deadlocks and eight lead changes before CSB wrested the lead for good late in the game.?
Arellano’s guards – Levi Dela Cruz, Dela Torre, and Richard Abanes — harassed CSB into 25 turnovers in which they converted into 26 points; 10 more than the Blazers.?
“I think in the end, it was our turn to play good defense,” noted CSB guard Unique Naboa who scored only five points, but made the layup at the final 46 seconds for a tie. ?
Yankee Haruna led the first-place Blazers with 20 points and 14 rebounds while Fil-American forward Justin Gutang added 19 big points.?
Dela Cruz showed the way for Arellano with 14 points while Harry Dumagan and Dela Torre added 11 and 10 points respectively. ?
The Chiefs slumped to an even 2-2 record. ?
In other matches, the San Sebastian College-Recoletos (SSCR) Golden Stags climbed to 3-1 in Group B of the tournament with a 96-88 win over reeling Jose Rizal University which dropped to 0-5. ?
“Mas beterano mga bata ko,” underscored SSCR head coach Edgar Macaraya whose wards have been hit by key defections to other schools of late. “It’s good they are playing well but I need others to stand up so they can rest.”?
Bulanadi (17 points), Ilagan (17 points), Capobres (14 points), Costelo (14 points), and Calisaan (11 points) each played more than 23 minutes. The only other Stag with significant minutes was second-year center JM Calma who chalked up 15 minutes of play. ?
JRU’s own core of veterans also played long minutes and scored the bulk of their output. Jed Mendoza led with 19 points. MJ Dela Virgen added 12 while Darius Estrella chipped in 11. ?
In Juniors’ play, Far Eastern University squeaked past Letran 70-65.?
For the Hanes One-On-One King of the Hardcourt competition, Ateneo rookie Jason Credo defeated San Sebastian’s Kevin Baytan, 15-12, to advance to the next round of the competition.?
“It was my first time to participate in an organized one-on-one competition,” said Credo who opened and closed the match with a triple. “This was quite an experience. I hope to learn and build from this.”?
In the other one-on-one match, Arellano University picked up a consolation prize when rookie Maui Sera-Josef defeated FEU’s Mike Cansiño, 9-8, to likewise advance to the next stage of the competition.