COLLEGE of St. Benilde pounced on a depleted Mapua side, waltzing to an 87-76 victory on Monday to boost its Final Four bid in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Fighting for their postseason lives, the Blazers led from start to finish over the seven-man Cardinals and notched the one-sided result.
It was the Blazers’ 11th win in 17 games, moving them to within a half-game behind third-running Perpetual Help and on the cusp of at least playoff for their first semifinal appearance in more than a decade.
“Buhay pa kami, pero the job is not yet done,” said Blazers coach Gabby Velasco, who drew double-digit scoring from four players led by Jonathan Grey and Paolo Taha.
The Cardinals, decimated by suspensions and injuries, ended the season tied at the bottom with Emilio Aguinaldo College with 14 losses against only four wins.
With Mark Romero being shackled and limited to just six points on a woeful 2-of-15 shooting, Grey and Taha shone among the Blazers’ terrific trio, coming up with 18 and 13 points, respectively, while Fons Saavedra chipped in 13 built around three triples.
But it was Luis Sinco who once again provided the unlikely spark for the Blazers as the usually pass-first playmaker fired all his 11 points in the third quarter, where his team broke the game wide open and outscored the Cardinals, 29-19.
The Cardinals, who leaned on career-high scoring performances from Exeqiel Biteng and Justin Serrano, could come no closer than eight points in the final frame.
CSB 87 – Grey 19, Taha 18, Saavedra 13, Sinco 11, Romero 6, Bartolo 6, Ongteco 4, Jonson 2, Nayve 2, Argamino 2, Flores 2, Altamirano 2, Pajarillaga 0, Mercado 0, Deles 0.
MIT 76 – Biteng 23, Serrano 17, Canaynay 12, Saitanan 11, Eriobu 8, Estrella 3, Cantos 2.
Quarterscores: 15-9; 37-33; 66-52; 87-76.