St. Benilde Blazers sustain NCAA streak after rout of Lyceum Pirates
The Blazers celebrate after notching their fourth straight win in Season 90 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament against the Pirates. Dante Peralta

COLLEGE of St. Benilde continued its rise to relevance in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, waltzing to an 86-77 victory over Lyceum on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.

Riding the momentum of a statement win over defending champion San Beda, the Blazers brandished the same energy against the Pirates to stretch their winning streak to four games and improve their win-loss record to 4-3.

The Blazers moved up to fourth spot in a tie with Jose Rizal University, and dealt the Pirates their second straight loss and fourth overall against four losses.

“We’re really playing inspired basketball,” Blazers coach Gabby Velasco said. “We’re trying to push how far this streak can go.”

Paolo Taha, Mark Romero, and Jonathan Grey delivered as usual, but Roberto Bartolo and Raphael Nayve provided ample support for the Blazers, who broke the game wide open in the middle quarters en route to the breezy win.

Taha fired 21 points, including 12 in the second quarter, where the Blazers outscored the Pirates, 24-9, to turn a seven-point first-quarter deficit into an eight-point halftime lead.

Romero took over in the third quarter, scattering 10 of his 14 points, including two on a layup that gave the Blazers a 64-42 cushion, their biggest, with three minutes remaining.

Grey churned out an all-around performance with 10 points, nine boards, and five assists, while Bartolo added 13 points, 11 boards, and two blocks.

Joseph Gabayni registered 12 points and 13 boards, while Guy Mbida added 12 markers, including three that put the Pirates to within 65-74 halfway through the fourth quarter, but came no closer than that.

The scores:

CSB 86 – Taha 21, Romero 14, Bartolo 13, Nayve 10, Grey 10, Sinco 6, Saavedra 5, Ongteco 5, Jonson 2, Argamino 0, Altamirano 0

LPU 77 – Gabayni 12, Mbida 12, Zamora 11, Baltazar 10, Ko 8, Bulawan 7, Malabanan 6, Elmejrab 6, Taladua 5, Pamulaklakin 0, Soliman 0

Quarterscores: 18-25, 42-34, 69-49, 86-77

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos