Continuing from where they left off last year, the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde Blazers rolled to its sixth straight win, demolishing erstwhile league leaders San Beda College Red Spikers in three sets, 25-19, 25-23, 25-17, Thursday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Leading MVP candidate and Blazers team captain Johnvic De Guzman led the Taft-based crew with 11 points, all from attacks.
However, it is the 10-point output of middle hitter Francis Basilan that spelled the difference in this crucial match with Final Four implications. The surprise starter finished with nine attacks and a block.
The deposed leaders from Mendiola took the initiative in all of the sets with Mark Enciso firing.
Nonetheless, when De Guzman and Ron Jordan took the service line for the Blazers, the Red Spikers was in disarray and could not connect in transition.
The Blazers took the fight out of San Beda in the middle portions of the first two sets, denying the latter’s offense especially off powerhouse hitters Enciso and Adrian Viray, and sealing the net with 11 blocks. The Taft squad also registered eight more spikes with 40-32.
Head coach Arnold Laniog was very pleased of how the newly-installed league leaders produced the win.
“Sabi ko sa mga bata nun, bago kami maghiwalay nung 22, i-ready nila yung sarili nila physically and mentally dahil nga dun sa week na magtetraining kami ng 27 to 31, hell week. Hell week na aside from physically mabuo sila, mentally mabuo rin sila,” he shared.
Laniog and his staff thus enlisted the help of a sports psychologist for this purpose.
The mentor also believed that this helped Basilan pull off his best game of the season yet. He said, “Si Francis kasi, kung ano yung kaya ni Francis, kaya rin ni Jethro (Orian). Nangyari lang, pag si Jethro nabubugbog sa training, bumibigay yung tuhod. So tune up namin against Ateneo, UP, si Francis na.”
“Nasabi nga namin sa psychologist, pinakausap namin. ‘Itong batang to malakas sa training, hindi niya madala sa game.’ So, binigyan siya ng exercises nung psychologist kung paano niya ivivisualize yung game,” Laniog added.
Enciso kept the Red Spikers in the game, but his 11 markers were not enough to clinch his team’s second straight postseason appearance.
The now 6-1 Blazers will take on the Arellano Chiefs (5-1) in another battle royale for the Final Four berths on January 13.
On the other hand, the Red Spikers (6-2) ends their elimination round when they face the Mapua Cardinals (3-3) on January 20.
CSB (3) – De Guzman 11, Arda 10, Basilan 10, Deximo 9, Bacani 7, Jordan 5, Martinez 1, Magsino 0, Bautista 0, Daming 0, Dy L, Garcia L.
SBC (0) – Enciso 11, Patenio 5, Viray 4, Santos 4, Desuyo 4, Zabala 3, E. Gonzales 3, Manliclic 3, Mascariñas 0, Genobaten 0, Casin L, Nicandro L.