One down for Saint Benilde
For short, fleeting moments in Game One of the NCAA Season 92 Final, the College of Saint Benilde Blazers had spectators believing it was going to be a close game.
After dominating the first set, the Blazers nearly surrendered the following frame to the defending champs, University of Perpetual Help System-Dalta Altas. But the Blazers and John Vic De Guzman were just too good.
In the end, Benilde came away with a convincing 25-17, 26-24, 25-17 win, coming within a game of the program’s first NCAA title.
For much of the match, the Altas struggled with reception, leading to a low attack rate. The Las Piñas-based squad, however, negotiated a 24-22 lead in the second set thanks to heads-up plays from the Taneo brothers. In perhaps his finest moment in a Benilde jersey, De Guzman pulled his Blazers back into the game, scoring the next two points to force a deuce.
From there, the Altas lost their will, succumbing in straight sets for the second time to the Taft spikers.
“Kahapon sobrang ganda ng training everything is smooth talaga, ang ganda ng training namin kahapon, in line kami sa isa’t isa na gusto namin mag-champion talaga,” said Benilde head coach Arnold Laniog.
“Nandito na kami, kita mo sa mga player na wala na talaga sa kanilang bibitaw,” Laniog added.
De Guzman finished with 19 points off 16 attacks, a block, and two aces.
For most of his career, the 23-year-old has done everything; represent the country, score 40 points in a match, even star in a film. But he has never won an NCAA indoor title, something he looks to settle in Game Two on Tuesday.
“This year talaga sinabi ko sa sarili ko na hindi talaga ako papayag na hindi ako mag-champion. Ito na lang ‘yung kulang sa akin. Lumakas talaga ‘yung loob noong nakita kong ganoon din mag-isip ‘yung teammates ko,” the graduating open hitter insisted.
Team captain Manuel Doliente towed the Altas with 10 points, but was the only Altas who scored in double-figures.
The defending champs had been in the same position last year against the EAC Generals, losing Game One in straight sets only to take the series in dramatic fashion.
Perpetual head coach Sammy Acaylar has reminded his team that this series is not over until one team wins two matches.
“Malayo pa. Hindi pa kami tapos. Wala sa mga taga-Perpetual ang pagsuko,” Acaylar vowed.
CSB (3) – De Guzman 19, Arda 13, Basilan 9, Bacani 8, Jordan 8, Deximo 4, Bautista 0, Orian 0, Dy (L), Garcia (L)
UPHSD (0) – Doliente 10, Kasim 9, Taneo Rey 7, Ramos 4, Rosales 2, Taneo S. 2, Sala-an 2, Narvasa 1, Taneo Relan 1, Atentar 0, Kalingking (L), Balmores (L)