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Jonson, Grey shine as Benilde survives EAC rally

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Far from what they showed in their first two games of the season, the College of Saint Benilde Blazers notched their first win of the Season 91 NCAA games with a 73-66 win over the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals held at the FilOil Arena in San Juan City, on Tuesday afternoon.

St. Benilde started the game with their halfcourt trapping defense that paid dividends early for the Blazers. The Generals committed three early turnovers that led to a 9-1 start for CSB. Alfonso Saavedra had a good shooting start from the perimeter with two jumpers during that stretch. Meanwhile, EAC scored its first field goal with five minutes passing by as their first three points all came from the free throw area. Travis Jonson also nailed in baskets to help Benilde build an early double-digit edge after the first quarter while limiting the Generals to only two field goals at the end of 10 minutes.

Carrying over the good start to the game, Jonathan Grey and Christian Fajarito combined for their team’s 8-1 start to build a more comfortable cushion in the second period. On the other end of the floor, EAC was still finding its mark from the perimeter with all of their rushed shots not falling in. However, Christ Mejos jumpstarted the Generals’ run as his team got into double-digit scoring after 14 minutes of action. Mejos had two treys during a 10-3 counter by EAC in the middle of the period and had the spurt extended as they managed to trim the lead down to nine. Despite free throws restoring a double-digit lead by St. Benilde, Mejos buried another three in the dying seconds to end the first half on a good note.

With the head start they made in the tail-end of the second quarter, EAC jumped to four straight points to open the second half of action. Benilde would then counter with their transition attack and another Saavedra triple restored an 11-point cushion at 42-31. With stops piling up with their defense, Benilde continued to run in transition to keep their lead. Jonathan Grey scored on a layup then followed it up with a corner triple to maintain their advantage. On the other side, five straight points by EAC including a triple by Mario Bonleon kept their team within striking distance. In the last 90 seconds of the third however, Saavedra and Castor both punched in timely threes to enter the last period helping their team go up by 16.

A defensive start to the fourth quarter provided nil points to both teams, until Mejos inked in another three with nearly seven minutes to play in the game. After another stop by the Generals, they would claw back to within eight with another trifecta courtesy of Mario Bonleon while Benilde seemed rattled with the costly turnovers in the payoff period. With over four minutes to go, Travis Jonson finally stopped the bleeding for CSB but EAC went on fighting for that comeback as Faustine Pascual countered with his own. In the next minutes, a wild exchange of clutch baskets was showcased by the two teams that enabled the Generals to fight back to make it 60-55.

Fortunately for Benilde, Jonson converted on a pivotal four-point play and Grey made a fastbreak layup off a steal that made it another 11-point barrier with two minutes left in the match. That stretch proved to be the nail in the coffin, as EAC had a hard time pulling off a miracle late in the game.

After the game, CSB head coach Gabby Velasco told us that the late game collapse was the fault of the lapses his team were doing. “They were able to convert it to free throws.” Moreover, the coach was thankful that the three-point shooting of the Blazers finally showed up. Most importantly, the most important thing about the win was that his squad did not lose confidence. “What I told them is to stay positive, good things will happen. Hopefully, next game, we’ll work harder,” Velasco closed.

Jonathan Grey led all scorers with 19 points and added three steals. Fil-Am Travis Jonson had 18 points as well on a hot 7/10 shooting. On the other end, the EAC Generals were led by Chris Mejos with 17 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Onwubere and Hamadou scored 14 points apiece as well.

As a team, Benilde shot 40% from the field compared to the poor 26% of Emilio Aguinaldo. In that dismal shooting, EAC was just 9/37 from the inside and 9/31 from the outside. EAC outrebounded CSB 57-36 but the Generals committed 23 turnovers compared to just the 16 of the Blazers.

CSB improves to a 1-2 record and are now in the middle of the 10-team tournament while EAC drops to 0-2.

Saint Benilde will next face the Arellano University on Friday at 4pm while the Generals’ next assignment will be also up against the Chiefs next Tuesday, 2pm. Both games still at the FilOil Arena.

The Scores

CSB (73) – Grey 19, Jonson 18, Saavedra 14, Ongteco 6, Fajarito 6, Sta. Maria 4, Nayve 3, Castor 3, Flores 0, Domingo J. 0, Domingo S. 0

EAC (66) – Mejos 17, Onwubere 14, Hamado 14, Pascua 6, Bonleon 6, Mbang 3, Diego 2, Morada 2, Pascual 1, Estacio 1, General 0, Corilla 0, Mallari 0

Quarters: 18-7, 36-27, 55-39, 73-66

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