MANILA, Philippines — Meltdowns are a thing of a past for St. Benilde as it rolled to its third straight victory after ripping Mapua, 84-64, Saturday in the NCAA season 89 men’s basketball tournament at the Arena in San Juan.
It was the Blazers’ end-game resolve that was in question in their heartbreaking five straight setbacks early in the season, but when the Cardinals came knocking back in the fourth, they knew exactly what to do.
With its double-digit lead reduced to just three early in the fourth, guard Dexter Garcia nailed a tough jumper off the glass, got a steal, canned two freebies and uncorked a triple from the corner in a telling 15-2 run which restored order for St. Benilde.
Garcia finished with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists while St. Benilde leader Paolo Taha starred with 24 points, including six straight that put his squad safely ahead, 81-63, with 1:41 to play. The Blazers improved to 3-5.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, still remain in search of a winning formula as they dropped their seventh assignment of the season with just a win to their name.
Mapua pulled to within three, 60-57, after a nifty layup by Darell Magsigay just a minute and a half into the payoff period, but the Cardinals only managed to score seven for the remainder of the game.
Carlos Isit led Mapua with 15 points while Andrew Estrella added 10.