MANILA, Philippines—It was like winning the jackpot in the lotto.
That was how coach Gabby Velasco described St. Benilde’s first victory, 75-69, after a string of heartbreaks, at the expense of Lyceum Thursday in the NCAA season 89 men’s basketball tournament.
“Finally, after so many heart-breaking losses,” Velasco also said after his squad halted a five-game losing skid, all of which by no more than two points.
The Blazers, who were ahead the entire game, were well in control, 70-49, with 5:15 to play and seemed headed their first victory.
But they were dealt another scare as the undeterred Pirates went storming back from 21-points down and just within five in the last two minutes.
“It was not easy for us. There was a scary moment there. Fortunately, we held our ground,” said Velasco
But despite squandering its big lead anew, St. Benilde did not allow Lyceum closer than five points in the frantic final stretch.
Paolo Taha had a near perfect game, going 4-of-4 from the field, and 5-of-6 from the stripe, along with six boards and two blocks.
Jose Saavedra topscored for the Blazers with 14 points, Mark Romero added 12 and Jonathay Grey 10.
The Pirates, meanwhile, absorbed their fourth setback with two victories.