IT seems there’s a new heartbreak kid in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
College of St. Benilde appears to have passed the unenviable mantle to Mapua after the Blazers frustrated the Cardinals, 79-72, on Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Blazers squandered a huge double-digit lead, but got their act together on time thanks to the clutch plays of Mark Romero and Jonathan Grey to notch a second straight victory and improve their win-loss card to 2-3.
For the third straight game, however, the Cardinals put themselves in a position to win, erasing an 18-point deficit and even taking the lead twice. But for the third successive time, they fell short.
“The reason why they got that lead was purely because of our fault offensively,” Blazers coach Gabby Velasco said. “But towards the end, we were able to regroup.”
Romero pumped in a career-high 26 points, while Grey chipped in 17 points, including seven in the fourth quarter for the Blazers, who dealt the Cardinals their sixth successive loss to remain the league’s only winless team.
For a while though, the Cardinals seemed poised for a breakthrough win in Season 90 as they came back from a 32-50 hole and grabbed a 68-67 lead after two free throws from CJ Isit with a little over three minutes to go in the final frame.
But the Blazers finished the game on a 12-4 run—eight points from Romero and Grey—to take the fight out of the Cardinals.
Paolo Taha, who the third member of the Blazers’ triple threat with Romero and Grey, added eight markers, the same as Roberto Bartolo and Luis Sinco as the Taft-based squad bucked the absence of Filipino-American forward Fons Saavedra, who was out with food poisoning.
CSB 79 – Romero 26, Grey 17, Sinco 8, Taha 8, Bartolo 8, Argamino 5, Jonson 3, Mercado 3, Ongteco 1, Nayve 0, Deles 0, Altamirano 0
MIT 72 – Gabo 16, Isit 14, Saitanan 14, Eriobu 13, Estrella 8, Biteng 2, Layug 2, Cantos 2, Villasenor 1, Canaynay 0
Quarterscores: 23-17, 39-31, 61-50, 79-72