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NCAA 99: Corteza, Gozum halt Mapua’s streak, lift Benilde to share of fourth


Matched up against the top team in the league, College of Saint Benilde showed why many still consider them championship contenders as it upset Mapua University, 65-61, in the second round of the NCAA Season 99 Seniors Basketball Tournament on Wednesday at the Filoil Ecooil Centre.

The Blazers missed the presence of Robi Nayve due to a quad injury that occurred just a day before the game.

Nayve had been the second leading scorer in the season for Benilde, averaging 14.78 points, 4.11 rebounds, and 3.44 assists coming off the bench.

NCAA-99-CSB-vs.-MU-Robi-Nayve NCAA 99: Corteza, Gozum halt Mapua's streak, lift Benilde to share of fourth Basketball CSB MIT NCAA News  - philippine sports news

Despite Nayve’s absence, the Blazers still had enough firepower to eke out a victory against the Cardinals, ending their six-game winning streak in season 99.

“The guys showed great character. I’m pleased that they stepped up, made plays, and maintained their composure. I didn’t even have to call a timeout until the last play; they did it on their own. It’s nice to see them mature a bit, but we still have to reduce the number of turnovers,” shared head coach Charles Tiu.

The Blazers controlled the lead for most of the game but faced difficulties in stopping Mapua’s MVP candidate, Clint Escamis. Escamis capitalized on Benilde’s turnovers, converting them into points for Mapua.

He finished the first half with 17 points and four steals, yet Benilde still led at halftime, 37-31.

Benilde began to pull away in the fourth quarter, taking a 10-point lead, 57-47, after a Joshua Marcos layup at the 7:54 mark. The Cardinals then responded with a quick 6-0 run to get back in the game.

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However, Benilde held onto their lead the rest of the way, escaping with a 65-61 victory.

Tiu credited his team for holding onto the win while the Cardinals attempted to make a comeback.

“I’m happy with the effort we played with because Mapua is a really tough team. They take you out of the game with their defense, but luckily we were able to escape with the win. I’m not happy that we didn’t score on the last possession; they beat us by four, and we’re playing for the quotient, but ganon talaga,” shared Tiu.

NCAA-99-CSB-vs.-MU-Will-Gozum-2 NCAA 99: Corteza, Gozum halt Mapua's streak, lift Benilde to share of fourth Basketball CSB MIT NCAA News  - philippine sports news

Miguel Corteza led the Blazers in scoring with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Will Gozum was the only other player in double digits with 11 points before fouling out.

Miguel Oczon had eight points in the matchup but struggled to score efficiently against the Cardinals’ defense, going 2 for 13 from the field, shooting at 15.4-percent.

The Blazers positioned themselves closer to another final four berth as they improved to a 6-4 record for the season.

They now sit in a three-way tie for fourth place with Jose Rizal University and Emilio Aguinaldo College.

Escamis was the highest scorer in the game with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists, and five steals, but the do-it-all guard was limited to just two points in the second half. Jopet Soriano added 14 points on a highly efficient 85.7-percent shooting from the field.

Both Warren Bonifacio and Paolo Hernandez struggled throughout the matchup, with the two Mapua leaders combining for just 12 points on 3 for 23 shooting from the field.

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The Cardinals dropped to an 8-2 record, but they still maintained a half-game advantage over San Beda University for the top spot in the standings. They have a match-up against Colegio de San Juan de Letran, who has a 1-9 record, next on Saturday at 3:00 PM.

The Scores:

CSB 65- Corteza 17, Gozum 11, Oczon 8, Marcos 8, Sangco 7, Carlos 6, Arciaga 4, Marasigan 3, Jarque 1,Turco 0, Cajucom 0, Jalalon 0

Mapua 61- Escamis 19, Soriano 14, Hernandez 10, Recto 8, Cuenco 4, Rosillo 2, Bonifacio 2, Igliane 2, Dalisay 0, Asuncion 0, Bancale 0, Fornis 0

Quarterscores: 21-17, 37-31, 51-45, 65-61

Written By

Vito Martin is a sportswriter from the Philippines. In 2023, he graduated from the Ateneo De Manila University with a degree in BS Psychology. He wrote for Ateneo’s official school publication The GUIDON, where he covered basketball, football, baseball, badminton, and other collegiate sports. He is a life-long fan of the Boston Celtics and an avid follower of the NBA


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