The CSB Blazers have the top seed on their mind
League-leaders De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Blazers had to fend off in-game adjustments and the stubborn San Sebastian College Golden Stags in four sets, 25-14, 24-26, 31-29, 25-20, to close their elimination round with eight consecutive wins, Wednesday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The win also secured the Taft-based squad a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.
Saint Benilde senior wing spiker Isaah Arda bucked a sluggish start to finish with a team-high 23 points, 20 coming off attacks. Team captain Johnvic De Guzman boosted his MVP stock with 19 markers.
The Blazers torched the Stags in the opening frame as the latter could not solve their reception woes. Eventually, the Blazers closed out the set relatively easier.
In the second set, Blazers head coach Arnold Laniog instructed his wards to change their gameplan.
“Meron akong ginawang adjustments nung second set. As much as possible lalaro kami in a basic play, hindi complicated. Iniiwasan din namin na like yung Perpetual they were scouting as for the future. Hindi nag-sink in sa mentality ng bata,” he shared.
That switch backfired as CSB played lost in some stretches of the second set, allowing the Stags to run their in quick and combination plays. Middle hitter Francis Ronato poured in most of his 15 markers in this frame for the Recto-based side.
“Sabi ko sa mga bata, we need this game. Hangga’t maari mapanalo natin to sa paraan na, hindi naman sa pag-aano, kaya nating matapos agad,” Laniog added.
The mentor, however, admitted that, “Credit rin to San Sebastian na they have good floor defense. Hindi kami naka-adjust nung second set. Nung first set, malayo, so yung mga bata sumobra yung kumpiyansa na alam nilang kaya nila.”
Nonetheless, the composure Benilde has just seem to put them ahead in the close third and, consequently, in the fourth set. Despite the fight back from the Stags led by skipper and birthday boy Jahir Ebrahim, the Blazers with Mark Deximo steering the offense, had the answer to such runs.
Stags skipper Ebrahim ended with 14 points.
The win placed the Blazers out of further complications after ending the round with an 8-1 slate. The Taft squad awaits the result of the match between the Perpetual Altas and Arellano Chiefs later today for possible Final Four scenarios.
CSB 3 – Arda 23, De Guzman 19, Jordan 10, Basilan 10, Bacani 5, Deximo 3, Orian 1, Bautista 1, Magsino 0, Martinez 0, Montano 0, Dy L, Garcia L.
SSCR 1 – Ronato 15, Ebrahim 14, Lana 12, A. Ongque 11, Calonia 9, Lazaro 1, Eugenio 0, A.C. Ongque 0, Toledo L.