Blazers back on track as Gutang leads the way
Justin Gutang is fast becoming the type of leader that College of St. Benilde wants him to be.
Hampered by injury early in the season, Gutang showed no trace of that hurting knee after powering the Blazers over Jose Rizal, 74-66, in the NCAA Season 95 men’s basketball tournament on Friday.
The 6-foot-3 Gutang again operated at the backcourt and inside the lane with efficiency in helping the Blazers regain their footing after losing back-to-back games against last season’s finalists San Beda and Lyceum.
“I felt that we really needed this win. That was the mind-set right from the beginning,” said Gutang, who was discovered by Benilde coach Ty Tang in San Francisco, California, last year.
Tang missed the Blazers’ win, but his absence was aptly filled by his assistant coach Charles Tiu as Benilde rose to 6-2 while dealing the Bombers a sixth loss in nine games.
Getting back on track, however, wasn’t easy for the Blazers, who had to weather a late rally by the Heavy Bombers.
“Our team played with a sense of urgency after those two losses,” said Tiu, who also called the shots for Mighty Sports in the Jones Cup. “We also want to end the first round with a winning record,” Tiu said before the Blazers wrap up the first round against the Letran Knights next week.
San Sebastian again leaned on the heroics of Alvin Capobres and Allyn Bulanadi to subdue Emilio Aguinaldo, 86-65, in the second game.
The Stags’ fifth win after eight games sent the Generals languishing to a 1-8 record entering the second round of eliminations.
When the Heavy Bombers went on a fouling spree in the dying seconds, Gutang and Yankie Haruna cooly nailed their free throws.
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