THE importance of boxing out was not lost on College of St. Benilde this time as it outlasted University of Perpetual Help, 77-73, on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan to end its first-round campaign in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on a high note.
Coming off a 66-67 loss to Arellano last Friday when they allowed Nard Pinto to grab an offensive rebound off a missed free throw to score the marginal basket, the Blazers saw themselves in the same situation, but avoided the same mistake.
With the Altas down by four, Juneric Baloria drew a foul on a three-point try to nudge the Las Pinas-based dribblers closer. The Perpetual gunner split his first two attempts, then intentionally missed the third for a chance at a rebound and a triple to force overtime.
But the Blazers’ Paolo Taha, who was tasked at boxing out Pinto last time, boxed out his man and grabbed the all-important defensive rebound—one of his 15—before drawing a foul.
The Blazers thus matched their win total last season with a fifth victory in nine games to force a three-way tie in fourth spot with their victims and Lyceum.
“This time, we were matured enough and we applied what we learned against Arellano,” Blazers coach Gabby Velasco said.
Taha scored just nine points, but two of his output put the Blazers ahead of good—an up-and-under shot that gave the Blazers a 73-72 lead with 36.7 seconds left.
Showing why he should’ve been included in the All-Star game, Jonathan Grey provided the spark off the Blazers’ bench with a team-high 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting in just 21 minutes.
Luis Sinco fired season-highs of 15 points and seven assists as he waxed hot in the third where the Blazers started to started to pull closer after trailing most of the game.
The Blazers turned the game around when it mattered most in the payoff period, when they outscored the Altas, 19-10, to prevail despite another solid all-around performance from the Altas’ four key players in Juneric Baloria, Earl Thompson, Harold Arboleda, and Justine Alano.
CSB 77 – Grey 19, Sinco 15, Romero 13, Bartolo 12, Taha 9, Saavedra 4, Nayve 3, Ongteco 2, Mercado 0, Deles 0, Altamirano 0
UPHSD 73 – Baloria 22, Thompson 20, Arboleda 12, Alano 11, Bantayan 3, Jolangcob 3, Gallardo 2, Dizon 0, Ylagan 0, Lucente 0, Pido 0
Quarterscores: 11-14, 37-41, 58-63, 77-73