SAN SEBASTIAN College survived College of St. Benilde, 95-93, on Saturday to score its first win in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Calvin Abueva, Ronald Pascual, and Ian Sangalang came through for the Stags, who needed a second half fightback to overcome the Blazers.
“I don’t care if it’s a two-point win,” Stags coach Topex Robinson said. “What’s important is how my players fought.”
Abueva, Sangalang, and Ronald Pascual, delivered their usual numbers as the Stags bounced back from a 74-80 opening-day loss to Letran.
Abueva, the reigning league Most Valuable Player, was his usual hard-working self for the Stags, registering 23 points, 23 boards, and six assists.
Pascual bounced back from a scoreless outing the last time as he buried five triples en route to 20 points, while Sangalang scored 19 and grabbed six boards.
Abueva actually tied his career high in rebounding, but his amazing performance was nothing new to his coach.
“I would be surprised if he doesn’t put up those numbers,” Robinson said.
The Blazers, coming off a win over Lyceum, had a great first half as they jumped out to a 53-46 cushion at halftime, before the Stags mounted a run in the second half to turn the game around.
“Teams have really improved,” Robinson said. “They’re gonna give their best against us so we always have to be on that level na matapatan namin sila.”
Joel Tolentino, whose triple knotted the count at 91 and capped St. Benilde’s rally from a 74-85 deficit in the final six minutes, led the Blazers with 20 points in 22 minutes off the bench.
SSC (95) -- Abueva 23, Pascual 20, Sangalang 19, Dela Cruz 16, Antipuesto 8, Rebollos 5, Juico 4, Vitug 0, Miranda 0, Maiquez 0
CSB (93) -- Tolentino 20, Lastimosa 19, Taha 17, Romero 14, Sinco 10, Tan 5, Bartolo 2, Maconocido 2, Grey 2, Ongteco 2, Deles 0, Dela Paz 0
Quarterscores: 22-27, 46-53, 73-69, 95-93