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NCAA 98: Oczon lifts Benilde to title decider, sends Finals to Antipolo


Initially ruled out of the game, Miguel Oczon put up an inspired performance that gave life to the Blazers.

Behind Oczon and reigning MVP Will Gozum, College of Saint Benilde forced a Game Three in the NCAA Season 98 Seniors Basketball Finals after outlasting defending champion Colegio de San Juan De Letran, 76-71, Sunday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Oczon fired four treys for 15 points to go along with seven rebounds.

With the game tied at 71-all with 55 seconds left, Gozum scored on the inside for the go-ahead bucket.

After an Louie Sangalang miss, Oczon went one-on-one with Brent Paraiso, scoring on a turnaround jumper with 20.2 ticks remaining for the dagger.

“We just told them to be mentally tough,” said Blazers head coach Charles Tiu as they were down by as many as 14 points in the first half. “We know that Letran is a really good team. But I told them that mentally, we have to believe that we can beat them. In our hearts, they beat us three times, but we are just glad to find a way to escape with the win.”

Gozum got 21 points and 10 rebounds.

The Finals will now head to Ynares Center Antipolo for the rubber match. The game will take place on Sunday, December 18.

Letran suffered a huge blow in the first half after NCAA Season 95 Finals MVP Fran Yu was ejected from the game. The Knights were already without Kobe Monje and Kyle Tolentino for the contest.

Yu, who already had six points in eight minutes of action, struck Mark Sangco with an elbow to the face that led to his ejection.

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The graduating Knight is in danger of missing Game 3 due to an automatic one-game suspension.

“Fran is a big piece for their team. He is a great player. We got to pressure them more, I guess, because their rotation will be much shorter. But at the end of the day, you can’t keep on hitting guys and getting away with it,” Tiu said.

He added, “They’ve been hitting us all series long. We just kept taking it and taking it but it’s about time we also stood up for ourselves. I’m happy about how we were able to bounce back.”

Benilde took advantage of it in the third quarter, going off for 30 points with Corteza scoring 14 of his 21 points in the frame. The Blazers also limited the Knights to just 14 points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field during that stretch.

“Well, number one, we told them to stay the course. We were down big, down double-digits, and they had luck on their side – they hit four bank shots and we missed nine free throws in the first half. I told them not to panic and just stick with what was working for us,” said Tiu.

“We made adjustments offensively. I’m just happy that they made our shots.”

Paraiso led Letran with 16 points. Batchmate Louie Sangalang added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Kurt Reyson and King Caralipio chipped in 11 points and 14 rebounds, respectively.


The Scores:

Benilde 76 — Gozum 21, Corteza 21, Oczon 15, Nayve 10, Pasturan 3, Sangco 3, Carlos 3, Cullar 0, Marcos 0, Davis 0, Lepalam 0, Flores 0, Lim 0.

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Letran 71 — Paraiso 16, Sangalang 11, Reyson 11, Caralipio 9, Yu 6, Santos 6, Javillonar 5, Olivario 4, Ariar 3, Guarino 0, Go 0.

Quarterscores: 20-23, 34-45, 64-59, 76-71.

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