COLLEGE of St. Benilde avoided a winless season by downing the Lyceum Pirates, 65-61, at the close of the elimination round of the 92nd NCAA basketball tournament on Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Blazers looked headed to setting a record in ignominy by going without a victory the entire season, but fought back to erase a 13-point deficit in the fourth period of their 18th and final game of the campaign.
"This is a very emotional win for us, not only for me, but for everybody as well. We've been waiting for this day to come, but at least, we're able to salvage one," said Benilde coach Gabby Velasco.
"The effort of the boys was there all throughout the season. My motivation is not only the win, but we're also looking for the effort. Probably meron kaming pagkukulang at kailangang iimprove, but this is part of our growing up, part of our maturity (process)."
The effort was none more evident than in the payoff period, where the Blazers found themselves trailing by as much as 13 points after Shaq Alanes' back-to-back treys for the Pirates, 55-42, with 7:38 left.
The Blazers went on a furious 15-0 run behind import Clement Leutcheu, who dropped eight straight points before a Yankie Haruna putback enabled Benilde to gain the upperhand, 57-55 in the waning minutes.
The two teams traded jabs before a Franz Pasamante drive with 25 ticks left put Benilde on top to stay, 64-61.
Leutcheu made his presence felt when Benilde needed him most, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the payoff period. Edward Dixon and Haruna added 12 and 11 markers, respectively.
Wilson Baltazar paced the Pirates with 11 points but turned gun-shy in the fourth quarter.
Benilde 65 – Leutcheu 18, Dixon 12, Haruna 11, Fajarito 9, Young 6, Pasamante 5, Sta. Maria 2, Domingo JS 2, Castor 0, Domingo JJ 0, Suarez 0, Pajarillaga 0, Belgica 0, Pili 0
Lyceum 61 – Caduyac 11, Baltazar 11, Nzeusseu 10, Alanes 8, Marata 6, Soliman 4, Malabanan 4, Ayaay 2, Bulawan 2, Alban 2, Gabayni 1, Magbuhos 0, Soriano 0, Rubite 0, Serafico 0
Quarterscores: 18-13, 26-30, 41-47, 65-61