THE heartbreak lingers.
San Sebastian extended the misery of College of St. Benilde in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, dealing the Blazers a throbbing 80-78 loss on Thursday night at The Arena in San Juan.
Jamil Ortuoste and CJ Perez shone brightest statistically for the Stags, but it was fellow rookies Leo de Vera and Bradwyn Guinto and skipper Jovit dela Cruz who delivered the key baskets down the stretch for the Golden Stags.
The Recto-based squad notched its third win in five games to join Jose Rizal University at third place.
“Medyo grabe `yung pressure,” admitted Stags assistant coach Raymond Valenzona, who temporarily took over in the absence of head coach Topex Robinson, who’s in California not just for the bonus trip of the Alaska Aces for winning the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title, but also to scout players for San Sebastian.
Robinson serves as one of Alaska’s deputies.
“Zero-four na `yung kalaban, baka sa amin pa makakuha ng panalo. So sa practice, sinabi ko talaga sa kanila na hindi pwedeng sa atin nila makukuha `yung unang panalo nila. ’Di bale ng sa iba na, wag lang sa amin,”added Valenzona, who had a double celebration as the Staglets, where serves as head coach, beat the Greenies, 62-52, earlier in juniors’ play.
Trailing, 78-74, the Stags pounced on the Blazers’ late errors and knotted the count at 78 following a short stab by Guinto and a breakaway layup by Dela Cruz.
De Vera then capped off the short but telling 6-0 closing run with two free throws to seal the outcome.
Ortuoste, the playmaker from Antipolo, poured in 23 points, six boards, and five assists, while Perez registered a double-double of 17 points and 10 boards, along with five assists, and two steals.
Paolo Taha topscored for the Blazers, but missed two potential game-tying baskets down the stretch that sent St. Benilde reeling to its fifth straight loss.
The Blazers now have a combined losing margin of seven points in all their five losses.
San Sebastian (80) -- Ortuoste 23, Perez 17, Dela Cruz 12, De Vera 8, Tano 7, Guinto 6, Gusi 3, Rebollos 2, Vergara 2, Balucanag 0, Magno 0.
ST. Benilde (78) -- Taha 21, Grey 17, Bartolo 12, Romero 10, Ongteco 7, Sinco 6, Garcia 3, Deles 2, Jonson 0, Saavedra 0, Argamino 0.
Quarterscores: 16-14; 36-35; 56-58; 80-78.