By: Ohmer Bautista
In a highly physical and emotionally-charged knockout game that went down the wire, the College of Saint Benilde Blazers eked out a win over the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 76-74, in the 12th Filoil Flying V Premier Preseason Cup presented by Chooks-to-Go at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
With the win, the Blazers advance to the semifinals. They will face either the San Beda Red Lions or the Adamson University Soaring Falcons.
Second-year Benilde head coach TY Tang lauded his team for remaining composed and sticking to the game plan.
“The boys really played to the game plan,” he declared. “There were some immature mistakes we had, but in the end, we pulled off the win.”
Down by three, 71-74, with 1:22 minutes left in regulation, the Blazers played with urgency, smothering UP with their hard-nosed defense. This then led to Jun Manzo hoisting an ill-advised jumper, leaving Yankie Haruna open in transition to trim the lead down to a solitary point, 73-74.
With time rapidly waning, Saint Benilde remain composed and continued their swarming defense, drawing another turnover from UP, which led to the go-ahead lay-up from Unique Naboa, 75-74.
Given a chance with 3.3 seconds left, UP’s Janjan Jaboneta threw an inbound pass to the other end but was intercepted by Justin Gutang to seal the game for good.
“From day one, we started, it’s all about defense,” Tang declared. “That identity held the way through til the end.”
Foreign student-athlete Clement Leutcheu and Yankie Haruna anchored the Blazers with 16 and 15 points respectively. Leutcheu hauled down seven boards, while Haruna had four steals as well. Naboa and Gutang added 12 and 11 respectively.
Meanwhile, Bright Akhuetie’s topscored with 22 markers and nine rebounds that went down the drain.
Paul Desiderio and Manzo managed 15 and 10 points respectively.
Ricky Dandan called the shots for the Fighting Maroons, as Bo Perasol was in Mindanao.
CSB 76 — Leutcheu 16, Haruna 15, Naboa 12, Gutang 11, Domingo 8, Young 8, Belgica 2, Pagulayan 2, Pasturan 2, Barnes 0, Carlos 0, Velasco 0.
UP 74 — Akhuetie 22, Desiderio 15, Manzo 10, Jaboneta 8, Ja. Gomez de Liaño 6, Ju. Gomez de Liaño 6, Murrell 3, Dario 2, Prado 2, Gozum 0, Lim 0, Tungcab 0, Vito 0.
Quarterscores: 18-16, 39-37, 58-54, 76-74.
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