St. Benilde back in NCAA Finals after 20 years, knocks off San Beda

CSB Blazers NCAA Season 98 Final Four San Beda

College of St. Benilde Blazers celebrate after knocking off the San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA Season 98 Final Four to reach the finals for the first time in two decades. NCAA PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Top seed College of St. Benilde earned the first finals berth after knocking off San Beda, 62-61, in the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball Final Four on Tuesday at San Juan Arena.

The Blazers booked their first finals appearance since 2002 while the Red Lions will miss the championship round for the second season in a row.

“This is important to us because the momentum is ours now. Hopefully, it keeps up when we face whoever enters on the other side,” CSB star Will Gozum said.

St. Benilde will face the winner between the other semifinals matchup featuring defending champion Letran and No. 3 Lyceum in a best-of-three finals series.

After being down by as many as 13, San Beda pulled within one, 60-59, after a James Kwekuteye triple.

Migs Oczon hit a pair of clutch free throws to give the Blazers a 62-59 cushion with 12.7 ticks to go before Kwekuteye misfied on a couple of cracks from deep.

Oczon, who also had a crucial block on JB Bahio with under a minute left in the game, finished with 17 points and six rebounds.

Jimboy Pasturan added 16 for the Blazers while Gozum notched another double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Kwekuteye just missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Jacob Cortez led San Beda’s scoring with 13 markers in a losing effort.

The Scores:

CSB 62 — Oczon 17, Pasturan 16, Gozum 10, Nayve 8, Corteza 7, Sangco 4, Cullar 0, Carlos 0, Marcos 0, Lepalam 0, Lim 0.

SAN BEDA 61 — Cortez 13, Kwekuteye 11, Bahio 9, Sanchez 8, Ynot 6, Cuntapay 4, Andrada 3, Cometa 3, Alfaro 2, Visser 2, Payosing 0.

Quarters: 19-14, 34-31, 54-48, 62-61.


NCAA: No. 1 Benilde faces San Beda, Letran battles Lyceum in Final Four