NCAA: CSB ‘slowly maturing’ after close win over JRU, says coach

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MANILA, Philippines — Showing signs of maturity, College of St. Benilde kept its composure down the stretch to eke out a 57-55 win over Jose Rizal University in the NCAA Season 89 men’s basketball tournament Monday night at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

The Blazers have now won four out of their last five games after a series of sorry losses to move just a game behind fourth place still held by the Heavy Bombers, who slipped to 5-5.

“Siguro marami kaming babawian na games dito sa second round but I must say that I think that we’re learning from our mistakes,” said CSB head coach Gabby Velasco, whose squad avenged its two-point overtime loss to JRU in the first round.

Mark Romero led St. Benilde with 15 points while Jonathan Grey made big plays in the fourth quarter that also keyed in the Blazers win.

Grey side stepped his way for a basket before setting up Robert Bartolo seconds later to give the Blazers a 55-50 cushion with 2:11 remaining.

Philip Paniamogan nailed a triple to cut JRU’s deficit to one, 55-56, after RJ Argamino split his charities with 16.7 seconds left.

Romero also made one-of-two at the line to extend CSB’s edge to two before Michael Mabulac missed a well-contested baseline attempt as the buzzer sounded.

“Like I said, I tried to instill into their minds how to handle situations like that. Clear na sa mind nila. Slowly, we’re maturing and learning,” added Velasco.

The Blazers won despite missing the services of their reliable rookie Fons Saavedra, who sprained his ankle during practice Sunday.

Paniamogan paced JRU with 19 points on four triples as starting point guard Paolo Pontejos failed to score a single point in 13 minutes.

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