COLLEGE of St. Benilde compounded the misery of San Sebastian, scoring an 80-74 victory on Wednesday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Blazers overhauled an early double-digit deficit to deal the hard-luck Stags their ninth straight loss and 10th overall against three wins to drop to just a half-game ahead of cellar-dwelling Mapua.
The Blazers notched a fourth win in five games and eighth in all in 13 games to solidify their hold of fifth spot, just a half-game behind of Perpetual Help and Jose Rizal University.
The Stags’ last win came against the Blazers, a 74-72 decision last July 11, which could’ve been a motivation for the Blazers.
“But it never came into our mind,” Blazers coach Gabby Velasco said of his team’s first-round setback. “What we emphasized was that they were in a losing streak. And they will really come out strong.”
True enough, the Stags came out with guns ablaze as they established a 40-23 lead in the second quarter, before the Blazers eventually lived up to their status as a Final Four contender this season, fighting back to turn the game around.
Mark Romero spearheaded the rally and finished with 25 points, built around five triples, including one from the right wing that gave the Blazers a 52-51 lead midway through the third period, their first since falling into that 17-point hole.
The Blazers’ terrific trio clicked as Paolo Taha added 19 points and 11 boards, while Jonathan Grey also nearly produced a double-double with 18 points and nine boards for the Taft-based dribblers, who outrebounded the Stags, 50-44.
CSB 80 – Romero 25, Taha 19, Grey 18, Ongteco 7, Sinco 5, Saavedra 4, Bartolo 2, Jonson 0, Nayve 0, Pajarillaga 0, Deles 0, Altamirano 0
SSC 74 – Dela Cruz 21, Guinto 13, Perez 13, Ortuoste 9, Yong 6, Balucanag 4, Fabian 3, Santos 3, Camasura 2, Calisaan 0, Pretta 0
Quarterscores: 16-24, 33-40, 59-57, 80-74