Benilde fights back vs Letran, forces NCAA title decider
MANILA, Philippines—College of St. Benilde came back from a double-digit deficit to slip past Letran, 76-71, and force a do-or-die game for the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball championship at Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.
Newly-minted MVP Will Gozum and the returning Migs Oczon came through in the clutch for the Blazers, who bounced back from an 81-75 loss in Game 1 last Sunday.
“You can say we have the momentum but they’re still the champion team. They don’t panic at all. Even if it looked like we were making a run, they were still composed,” CSB coach Charles Tiu said of the Knights, who are gunning for a ‘three-peat.’
Gozum hit the go-ahead drive, 73-71, with 55 seconds remaining before Oczon buried a contested turnaround jumper to seal the game, 75-71, with 20.8 ticks to go.
Gozum and Miggy Corteza both finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Oczon, who missed majority of Game 1 after hurting his ankle, added 15 points and seven rebounds.
Down 11 at halftime, the Blazers responded in the third quarter by going on a 15-4 run. They led, 64-59, heading into the final frame after a Corteza floater.
The Knights lost Fran Yu early in the game after the reliable guard was tossed at the 5:29 mark of the second quarter when he got called for a disqualifying foul for elbowing Blazers’ Mark Sangco.
Yu, who is also likely out for next week’s decider at Ynares Center in Antipolo to serve a one-game suspension under league rules, finished with six points and a steal.
“It was clear in the video, our player Sangco got elbowed in the face and you can’t keep getting away with that,” said Tiu.
Brent Paraiso had 16 points for Letran while Louie Sangalang posted a double-double 11 points and 10 rebounds.
CSB 76 — Gozum 21, Corteza 21, Oczon 15, Nayve 10, Pasturan 3, Sangco 3, Carlos 3, Cullar 0, Marcos 0, Davis 0, Lepalam 0, Flores 0, Lim 0.
LETRAN 71 — Paraiso 16, Sangalang 11, Reyson 11, Caralipio 9, Yu 6, Santos 6, Javillonar 5, Olivario 4, Ariar 3, Guarino 0, Go 0.
Quarters: 20-23, 34-45, 64-59, 76-71.