ST. BENILDE got an opening win by the skin of its teeth, holding off Emilio Aguinaldo College, 69-66 on Tuesday in the NCAA Season 95 seniors basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Blazers saw a 17-point lead trimmed to just two, with the Generals staging a 17-2 run capped off by a Kris Gurtiza layup with 2:17 remaining, 67-65.
St. Benilde needed a tough stance in the endgame to pull off the victory, with Jimboy Pasturan nailing crucial freebies as JP Maguliano's potential game-tying trey fell way short.
"We played well in the first half, but it's all about consistency and sustainability," said coach TY Tang. "In the second half, we kinda got rattled out and egos came in. Instead of playing as a team, individual talents tried to overcome the game, so hopefully we learn from it."
Pasturan finished with 19 points, two rebounds and two assists, while Justin Gutang added 17 points and 12 boards.
It was a huge sigh of relief for Tang as the Blazers scored an opening game win, especially since they were without injured Cameroonian center Clement Leutcheu (left quad strain) and senior forward Yankie Haruna (broken jaw).
"It's good to have my first official win in three years in the first game of the season. Hindi na from a technicality lang," he quipped, referring to a win awarde to the Blazers two two years ago when the Perpetual Help Altas played wearing the wrong uniforms.
JP Maguliano had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Generals.
Jethro Mendoza also got 16 points and four boards as coach Oliver Bunyi started his EAC run with a defeat.
St. Benilde 69 - Pasturan 19, Gutang 17, Naboa 7, Lepalam 7, Carlos 5, Dixon 4, Nayve 3, Flores 3, Belgica 2, Sangco 2, Young 0.
EAC 66 -- Maguliano 18, Mendoza 16, Luciano 8, Taywan 6, Tampoc 6, Gonzales 4, Gurtiza 4, Estacio 4, Martin 0, Carlos 0, Corilla 0, Cadua 0, Dayrit 0, De Guzman 0.
Quarterscores: 17-12; 37-23; 57-44; 69-66.