Despite the absence of head coach TY Tang on the sidelines, the College of Saint Benilde Blazers played inspired basketball, stifling the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 74-66, Friday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“To be honest, we’re really struggling and haven’t been playing well sa practice. We are a bit demoralized and we needed to get some confidence back,” said Benilde assistant coach Charles Tiu, as his side lost back-to-back games against contenders Lyceum Pirates and San Beda Red Lions.
Besides their skid, the Blazers were without Tang, who served a one game suspension; and lead guard Jimboy Pasturan, who is out for the season due to a dislocated shoulder.
Still, the Blazers pushed on.
Up by just two with 7:53 left, Benilde went on a 10-0 run with baskets coming from Kendrix Belgica, Carlo Young, and Unique Naboa.
“We’re in control for the most part of the game, but we’re still struggling to shoot the ball,” Tiu lamented.
Agem Miranda and John Amores tried to will JRU back, but Benilde had an answer for every bucket they knocked down. Justin Gutang sealed the deal with two free throws with 24.9 ticks left to give Benilde a 72-64 cushion.
Gutang had 14 points and eight rebounds for Benilde, went up to 5-3. On the other hand, Young stepped up for Pasturan, tallying 13 markers.
JRU, who ended their first-round campaign with a 3-6 slate, were led by Miranda’s 20 markers. He shot just 6-of-17 from the field but still scattered seven rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a block.
Amores added 14 markers, while Marwin Dionisio tallied a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards.
Benilde take on the Letran Knights on Friday, September 6 at the Cuneta Astrodome in their final game of the round.
CSB 74 – Gutang 14, Young 13, Dixon 10, Haruna 9, Belgica 6, Naboa 5, Nayve 5, Leutcheu 4, Carlos 4, Flores 4, Sangco 0.
JRU 66 – Miranda 20, Amores 14, Dionisio 13, Delos Santos 6, Arenal 6, Aguilar 4, Dela Rosa 3, Jungco 0, Macatangay 0.
Quarterscores: 17-12, 28-29, 46-41, 74-66.