College of St. Benilde kept a tight grip on the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball tournament leadership after adding to Mapua’s woes with a 73-64 win on Wednesday at the Filoil Ecooil Center.
Miguel Corteza led the way when the Blazers broke away in the second half after a close first half against a Cardinals side that was desperate for their first victory in the tournament.
The second-year forward scored 13 of his game high 17 points in the second half as the Blazers led by as many as 12, 65-53, with four minutes remaining in the game, following back to back three-pointers from Miguel Oczon and JC Cullar.
Corteza then wrapped the game up with two more baskets as the Blazers improved to 6-1.
"We all know Mapua is a very physical team, sobrang physical nila maglaro,” Corteza said. “Coach just instructed us to match the physicality, play our own game and wag magpadala sa aming mga emotions.”
Corteza had plenty of help as Oczon added 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from three-point land while Ladis Lepalam had his best game of the tournament with 10 points on 5-6 shooting in less than 15 minutes of play.
The balanced attack helped mitigate Will Gozum’s relatively quiet game as the bruising big man finished with just eight points, five rebounds and just two blocks.
“Everyone sa team namin can score, coach Charles [Tiu] gives everyone the green light to shoot when open, but pass out pag nado-double. Coach Charles encourages everyone to make plays," Corteza said.
The woes continued for the Cardinals as last year’s finalists dropped to 0-8. Adrian Nocum led the way for the team with 15 points and seven rebounds as Warren Bonifacio had a double-double 14 points and 11 rebounds.
As if the Cardinals didn’t have enough problems, they also lost do-it-all forward Arvin Gamboa late in the fourth as he appeared to tweak his knee following a rebound battle. He was carried out of the court after collecting 11 points and seven rebounds.
St. Benilde 73 - Corteza 17, Oczon 14, Lepalam 10, Sangco 8, Gozum 8, Nayve 6, Carlos 4, Pastuan 3, Cullar 3, Marcos 0, Flores 0
Mapua 64 - Nocum 15, Bonifacio 14, Gamboa 11, Salenga 7, Lacap 6, Pido5, Garcia 4, Hernandez 2, Soriano 0, Agustin 0, Parinas 0
Quarters: 18-11, 29-29, 53-42, 73-64