Rusty St. Benilde Blazers squeak past JRU Bombers to gain solo third spot
Paolo Taha comes up with a huge double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds for St. Benilde. Dante Peralta

A rusty College of St. Benilde overcame Jose Rizal University, 71-69, on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan to bolster its Final Four bid in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Sluggish after coming off a long, unintentional layoff of more caused by postponements due to typhoons, the Blazers trailed most of the way, but delivered when it mattered on the way to a 10th victory in 15 games.

Paolo Taha and Mark Romero shone as usual, but Luis Sinco provided an unlikely spark for the Blazers, who broke a tie in third place with their victims, who dropped to a 9-6 win-loss card, allowing Perpetual Help to gain a piece of fourth spot.

“It really showed (that we were a bit rusty),” Blazers coach Gabby Velasco said. “For a couple of times, nakita ko na pagod yung players, hindi kami makatakbo, tapos ang daming gusto magpa-sub.”

“Good thing we were able to survive.”

For most part, though, the Blazers, who last played on September 6, evidently felt the effects of the unwanted break as they fell behind early and and failed to execute their running game. The Taft-based dribblers also committed 19 turnovers.

Remarkably, the men in green and white made half of their shots (23 of 46) against a defensive-oriented Bombers side, which shot just 42 percent from the field.

Sinco was a huge part of the rally, waxing hot in the payoff period, where he hit both his triples as the Blazers outscored the Bombers, 23-13 that erased an eight-point lead.

In all, the veteran playmaker, who came in averaging just five points per game, tallied 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 29 minutes.

Taha scattered 16 points, including the last two on the contested layup that put the Blazers ahead for good at 70-69, on top of 10 boards, three assists, and one block, while Romero finished with 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists.


The scores:

CSB 71 – Taha 16, Romero 14, Sinco 12, Saavedra 9, Grey 9, Ongteco 8, Altamirano 3, Jonson 0, Nayve 0, Pajarillaga 0, Bartolo 0

JRU 69 – Paniamogan 19, Teodoro 10, Mabulac 10, Sanchez 9, Abdul Wahab 8, Grospe 6, Benavides 6, Lasquety 1, Salaveria 0, Balagtas 0, Asuncion 0

Quarterscores: 14-17, 35-37, 48-56, 71-69

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