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Blazers send Pirates packing



The Lyceum Pirates had every chance to hijack the game and end their season on a high note. However, just like their season, they dropped the ball as the College of Saint Benilde Blazers staved off the Lyceum University Pirates, 59-56, in their penultimate game of the season Thursday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

Contrary to the result of the game, the Lyceum Pirates started the game playing hard on the defensive end. The Pirates were able to get an early 10-2 lead capped by back-to-back three-pointers Wilson Baltazar. After a TV timeout, the Blazers regrouped and were able to cut the lead to just three, 12-9, behind a 5-0 spurt by Fons Saavedra to end the opening stanza.

The Pirates continued their hot-shooting to start the second quarter as the hero in their first round encounter, Shaq Alanes, made it rain from downtown while Joe Lacastesantos connected on one of his own to extend the lead to nine. The Blazers then switched to a full court press that halted the Lyceum momentum. A huge 12-4 run by Benilde behind senior JR Ongteco and rookie Gegard Castor turned the tides of the game. Ongteco sparked the rally with four straight points while Castor scored nine. A hail mary by Castor from 3/4 away from the court converted to enter halftime, 29-25.

The Green-and-White squad continued to push the lead to 39-31 midway through the third. The backcourt of Alanes and MJ Ayaay, carrying the team on their backs as Gabayni stuggled, chipped in to the lead to eventually tie the game 43-all entering the final frame.

Ayaay scored seven third quarter points during that rally. Ongteco, playing his penultimate game with the NCAA, was aggressive on the inside in scoring eight points in the first 3:52 of the fourth quarter to extend the Benilde lead to ten 54-44. However, the Taft-based squad’s press softened up with Ayaay and Gabayni picking apart the CSB frontline. A putback by Gabayni eventually cut the lead to five, 59-54, with 37 ticks to go. Misses by Alanes from downtown with 10.8 remaining almost cut the lead but the opportunities just kept going to the Pirates. Misses on the charity stripe by Saavedra was rebounded by Alanes who threw a pull up but was fouled by JJ Domingo. Domingo then threw his hand in disgust of the call and was called for a technical foul. Unlike in their first round encounter though, Alanes missed 2/4 charities and committed a backing violation after to hand the game to the Blazers 59-56.

“We are using these last few games to develop our rookies,” coach Gabby Velasco remarked after the game. “Ang daming gragraduate sa amin. You have Grey, Ongteco and graduating players like Saavedra and Jonson. For the past two years, core namin nawawala.”

“That’s why we have to develop guys like the Domingo twins, Gerard Castor, and Fajarito,” he reitirated. “They can be the foundation of our team.”

“We also wanted to prove a point this game,” Velasco disclosed. “We know that we won our first round encounter and the calls in that game was not good. I even showed the tape to Commissioner Cristobal and he agreed.”

Only three players scored in double digits for the Blazers with Gerard Castor leading the way with 13 markers. He was 4/5 from downtown and added nine boards. Smart Elite ambassador Jonathan Grey scored 13 points but was just 6/14 from the field. He added five assists.

For the Pirates, Joseph Gabayni notched a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards. The 7 turnovers he committed was the primary reason the team fell behind. As a team, the Pirates committed 26 turnovers tat led to 22 turnover points.

The CSB Blazers (5-12) will play their final game of the season on Tuesday, October 6 against the Mapua Cardinals at 12:00nn. The Lyceum Pirates end their season with a 4-14 slate.

The Scores:

CSB (59) – Castor 14, Grey 13, Ongteco 12, Domingo JJ 6, Saavedra 5, Domingo JS 4, Sta Maria 2, Fajarito 2, Deles 1, Nayve 0, Flores 0, Dixon 0, Young 0, San Juan 0

LPU (56) – Gabayni 14, Ayaay 11, Alanes 10, Baltazar 6, Lacastesantos 6, Soliman 3, Marata 2, Mbida 2, Elmejrab 2, Sunga 0, Malabanan 0, Nguidjol 0, Taladua 0, Bulawan 0

Quarters: 9-12, 29-25, 43-43, 59-56

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