NCAA: Blazers pip Chiefs; Altas hang on
MANILA—St. Benilde weathered a late Arellano surge to pull off a scrambling 66-64 victory Monday even as Perpetual Help staved off elimination in the 87th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Blazers nearly squandered a 14-point fourth-quarter lead as they improved to 5-7 in a tie for fifth with Lyceum, which fell in a 73-78 upset to Perpetual Help.
The stunning reversal kept the Altas in the fight for a Final Four berth, although at 3-10, they need to sweep their remaining games to stay alive.
St. Benilde was comfortably ahead at 59-45 with 5:20 remaining after a dunk by Jonathan Grey, before Arellano unleashed a ferocious fightback behind Vergel Zulueta to come within, 64-65, time down to 11 seconds.
Anton Altamirano managed a split from the free throw line with eight seconds left and Zulueta, who exploded for 14 of his 19 points in the final period, missed a desperation triple on the Chiefs’ final possession.
But St. Benilde coach Richard del Rosario wasn’t satisfied with the way his Blazers played in the clutch, where they allowed two triples by Zulueta in the space of eight seconds.
“My players didn’t follow instructions in the endgame,” said Del Rosario, who is set to leave the Blazers after the season to take the coaching reins at B-Meg in the PBA.
“That’s the problem with the team. They become too excited when they take the lead.”
The Blazers, using their fluid running game, outscored the Chiefs, 20-6, to pull away from 39-all, before Zulueta’s late explosion set the stage for the nervy finish.
St. Benilde survived despite a lackluster performance from leading scorer Carlo Lastimosa, who wound up with only three points on 1-of-6 shooting.
“Its also a good sign that we can win with Carlo having a bad game,” said Del Rosario.
The Altas outmaneuvered the Pirates at the finish with Jett Vidal nailing the go-ahead basket with 1:04 remaining for a 74-73 lead.
George Allen’s layup with 28 seconds remaining finished off Lyceum, which absorbed its second straight loss despite leading by eight early in the fourth quarter.
ST. BENILDE 66 – Taha 12, Grey 10, Altamirano 10, Dela Paz 9, Romero 8, Carlos 5, Sinco 5, Lastimosa 3, Nayve 2, Tan 2, McCoy 0.
ARELLANO 64 – Zulueta 19, Celada 17, Lapuz 9, Doligon 4, Del Rosario 4, Casino 3, Salcedo 2, Okpe 2, Palma 2, Acidre 2, Pagayunan 0.
Quarters: 19-11, 33-29, 47-39, 66-64
PERPETUAL HELP 78 – Arboleda 16, Vidal 13, Alano 10, Sison 10, Thompson 9, Allen 8, Paulino 5, Elopre 3, Asuncion 3, Tonggal 1, Sumera 0, Jolangcob 0.
LYCEUM 73 – Cayabyab 19, Ko 11, Zamora 10, Guevarra 8, Laude 8, Mallari 8, Napiza 4, Azores 2, Lesmoras 2, Francisco 1, Lacap 0, Santos 0.
Quarters: 20-16, 34-29, 53-60, 78-73