By: Ohmer Bautista
Champion versus champion
Defending champions San Beda University Red Lions halted the streaking College of Saint Benilde Blazers, 78-71, in the Filoil Flying V Premier Preseason Cup Semifinals presented by Chooks-to-Go at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
With the win, the Red Lions advance to the Finals anew. They will seek to defend their crown against UAAP Kings Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles tomorrow, June 30.
“We’re happy that even though we were up by 10 in the third quarter we lost that lead but we came back and steadied the ship,” San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez beamed. “The boys really did a good job today.”
Up by a precarious one-point edge coming into the payoff period, after squandering a ten point lead in the third, 54-53, the Red Lions bared their fangs, unleashing a 12-5 blitz to widen the gap to eight, 66-58.
Refusing to back down, the Blazers willed their way back and inched within three, 71-74, after Clement Leutcheu converted both his charities with 20 ticks left in regulation.
However, it proved to be the Blazers’ last lease on hope as the duo of Evan Nelle and Javee Mocon coolly drained both their freebies on consecutive possessions to ice the game for good.
Foreign student athletes Toba Eugene and Donal Tankoua muscled their way with 14 points each, while hauling six and five board respectively. Mocon and Clint Doliguez added 13 and 11 respectively, with the former corraling 12 big rebounds.
After the win, coach Fernandez also lauded the Blazers for putting up a great fight.
“I give credit to Saint Benilde,” he said. “They really played well tonight. Good job for Coach Ty [Tang] for their game plan today.”
Justin Gutang’s 22 markers went for naught, as the Blazers bow out of championship contention. Leutcheu and Haruna added 15 and 11 points respectively.
Saint Benilde will look to pocket bronze against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws tomorrow in the same venue.
SBU 78 – Tankoua 14, Eugene 14, Mocon 13, Doliguez 11, Bolick 9, Canlas 6, Nelle 5, Abuda 3, Cuntapay 3, Presbitero 0, Tongco 0, Oftana 0, Cabanag 0
CSB 71 – Gutang 22, Leutcheu 15, Haruna 11, Pasturan 8, Belgica 4, Dixon 4, Naboa 3, Domingo 2, Pagulayan 2, Carlos 0, Young 0, Nayve 0, Velasco 0
Quarterscores: 20-19, 40-34, 54-53, 78-71