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NCAA 95: Blazers stay perfect

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By Waylon Galvez

Games on Friday (The Arena, San Juan)
8 a.m. – SSC-R vs San Beda (Jrs)
10 a.m. – Lyceum vs JRU (Jrs)
12 n.n. – SSC-R vs San Beda (Srs)
2 p.m. – Lyceum vs JRU (Srs)
4 p.m. – EAC vs Arellano (Srs)
6 p.m. – EAC vs Arellano (Jrs)

College of St. Benilde displayed tremendous poise down the stretch as the Blazers hammered a 71-67 victory over the Mapua Cardinals to remain unbeaten in the 95th NCAA men’s basketball tournament Thursday night at the Mapua Gym in Intramuros, Manila.

Justin Gutang scored 12 points, including a crucial three-point play with 36.2 seconds left in the game that gave the Taft-based school a 69-62 advantage – the kind of toughness that St. Benilde coach TY Tang wants his team to develop this season.

Despite playing in a hostile crowd as Mapua students and supporters packed the venue in this second leg of the NCAA on-tour, the Blazers did not fold as they battled the Cardinals in every possession.

In the end, CSB was rewarded with a hard-earned win as the team claimed its third straight win to remain unbeaten and catch defending three-time champion San Beda on top of the team standings.

“It was a tough game,” said Tang, a former stalwart of CSB’s sister school De La Salle, who is now on his third year with the Blazers. “I’m proud of how the players worked their way to win the game.”

Jimboy Pasturan finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Senegalese center Clement Leutcheu also had a solid outing for CSB with 11 points and fove rebounds – his second game with the Blazers after missing the team’s opener two weeks ago against Emilio Aguinaldo College.

According to Tang, the 6-foot-7 is on his way to regaining his old form, which is crucial in CSB’s playoff aspiration.

“Celment is trying to get back into the groove right now. That is our concern,” said Tang.

As for the Cardinals, the setback kept the team of coach Randy Alcantara – a member of the last Mapua champion team that won back-to-back titles in the early 90s – winless at 0-4.

Mapua got 14 points from Arvin Gamboa, 10 of which came in the first half when the Cardinals took a 32-27 lead at the break.

CSB made it a ‘twin-kill’ as Ric Calimag fired 26 points, while Jan Manansala added 17 points and 18 rebounds to power the La Salle Green Hills Greenies to a 95-90 win over defending champion Mapua Red Robins in a rematch of last season’s title showdown in the junior’s division.

The win improved La Salle’s record to 2-1, while Mapua, which got 23 points from Megan Galang, remained winless at 0-4.

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