Prince Eze showed that Perpetual is going to be fine after the departure of Bright Akhuetie as it outlasted St. Benilde, 69-65, Tuesday in the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Nigerian big man converted two huge putbacks to score the final five points for the Altas in the last 48.3 seconds, fending off a huge fightback from the Blazers.
Eze finished the game with 11 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks.
Gab Dagangon paced the Altas with 14 markers, 10 boards, and three assists, while GJ Ylagan had 12 points and three rebounds.
Jonathan Yuhico contributed 12 markers and two boards, while Flash Sadiwa got 10 points and six rebounds despite missing five freebies in the last three minutes.
“We’re lucky that we won the game,” quipped coach Jimwell Gican. “Our defense collapsed and maybe, that’s due to fatigue. But it is what it is, that’s first game jitters and we’re lucky to get the win.”
The Blazers had numerous chances to steal the game, but rookie Unique Naboa missed a three and committed a traveling infraction in the final minute, while Matthew Johnson missed a potential game-tying trey from the right corner in the dwindling seconds of the game.
St. Benilde, though, put the game under protest after the Altas wore the wrong uniform and played the game in their maroon jerseys.
Kendrix Belgica topped the Blazers with 16 points and five rebounds, while Johnson got 10 in the losing effort.
PERPETUAL 69 – Dagangon 14, Ylagan 12, Yuhico 12, Eze 11, Sadiwa 10, Pido 6, Coronel 4, Lucente 0, Tamayo 0, Clemente 0, Mangalino 0.
ST. BENILDE 65 – Belgica 16, Johnson 10, Castor 9, Domingo 9, Young 6, Dixon 5, Sta. Maria 4, Naboa 3, Leutcheu 2, San Juan 1, Bunyi 0.
Quarters: 23-13, 39-32, 53-55, 69-65.