ST. BENILDE drew stellar efforts from Paolo Taha and Dexter Garcia in repulsing Mapua, 84-64, last night for its third straight victory in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Taha delivered another all-around effort, highlighted by a season-high 24 points, even as Garcia proved a pleasant surprise for coach Gabby Velasco with 18 points for the Blazers, who climbed to sixth spot.
With their offense working like a well-oiled machine, the Blazers led all the way, finding an answer each time the Cardinals threatened in the second half.
“We wanted to start well, come out with a high level of energy, high intensity,” said Velasco, whose squad improved to 3-5.
It was the Cardinals’ sixth straight defeat in a 1-7 card under rookie coach Atoy Co.
Sustaining his strong play, Taha made 10 of his 13 shots and also finished with 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Mark Romero also proved solid with 16 points, including two triples for the Blazers, who also won the battle at the boards, 45-35.
Averaging just two points in nine minutes in the first seven games of the season, Garcia came alive with his season-best output in 22 minutes on the floor, including seven points in the final period that allowed the Blazers to pull away for good.
Later, Igee King and Noube Happi came alive in the second half as Emilio Aguinaldo College notched its second straight victory with a 79-63 drubbing of Arellano in a game marred by a near melee after the final buzzer.
The game ended in a sour note when players from both teams jawed at each other with Arellano player James Forrester among those agitated and had to be pacified by Arena security.
ST. BENILDE 84—Taha 24, Garcia 18, Romero 16, Ongteco 6, Saavedra 5, Sinco 5, Bartolo 4, Argamino 3, Grey 3, Deles 0.
MAPUA 64—Isit 15, Estrella 10, Eriobu 9, Brana 9, Magsigay 6, Ighalo 5, Biteng 4, Saitanan 4, Gonzalez 2.
Quarters: 16-16, 40-28, 59-52, 84-64
EAC 79—King 20, Noube 19, Paguia 16, Jamon 11, Tayongtong 8, Arquero 3, Morada 2, Onworube 0, Hiole Manga 0.
ARELLANO 63—Caperal 16, Agovida 9, Gumaru 7, Jalalon 7, Bangga 6, Pinto 6, Nicholls 5, Serjue 3, Salcedo 2, Cadavis 0, Hernandez 0.
Quarters: 15-22, 30-36, 51-50, 79-63