The College of Saint Benilde Blazers have been the butt of jokes, ridicule, and harsh memes all throughout the season. It may have been unwarranted, as the young Blazers experienced obstacle after obstacle day in and day out, suffering heartbreak and hardship both on and off the hard courts.
Saint Benilde went into their last game of the season on Friday afternoon holding the most losses in a single season in the Grand Old League. The records and the statistics, however, did not matter for the young Blazers as they faced the Lyceum University of the Philippines Pirates.
“There were moments where we felt we didn’t fight until the end. After the game, we talk and evaluate, scold them,” reflected fourth year Benilde head coach Gabby Velasco, whose contract is up for renewal.
“This is not just basketball for us, this is life.
“We have a young team and we’re not making any excuses. I take responsibility for this. Hopefully, maging bright ang future namin and we have to learn from this.”
Down 13 late in the third frame, the Blazers did not cave in. With first year Blazer Clement Leutcheu anchoring them, Saint Benilde fought back. Slowly they were able to chip at the lead, eventually taking a 62-61 advantage. On the defensive end, they were able to grind out the Pirates like there was no tomorrow.
The Blazers were not to be denied.
“This is a very emotional win for us, not only for me, but for everybody as well,” Velasco, who was trying to hold back tears, shared. “We’ve been waiting for this day to come, but at least, we’re able to salvage one.”
“Kahit isang panalo, feeling namin champion kami.”
With just one graduating player for next season, Velasco is hopeful that this win and the momentum it brought will carry over to the team next season.
“Malaking boost ito sa morale ng team looking forward sa future. Yun ang objective namin today, anything positive to gain. I hope everybody will be motivated for the future,” the Benilde mentor admitted.