MANILA, Philippines—College of St. Benilde pulled a trick up its sleeve and caught Letran by surprise en route to a Game 2 victory in their NCAA Finals showdown on Sunday.
Rising rookie Migs Oczon, who had been ruled out by coach Charles Tiu of Game 2 due to an ankle injury he suffered in the finals opener, showed up and played a vital role in helping the Blazers force a deciding Game 3.
“To be honest, I want to say sorry to you guys (reporters), I knew he was going to play the whole week, I just had to tell he’s not playing just to be sure,” Tiu said after their thrilling win over the Knights, 76-71, at Araneta Coliseum.
“We have a little bit of mind games of our own,” Tiu added.
Oczon hurt his ankle after landing on the foot of Letran’s Kyle Tolentino in the opening minutes of Game 1 last Sunday and did not return. Tolentino was suspended in Game 2 for planting his foot which led to Oczon’s injury.
Oczon returned in Game 2, coming off the bench to deliver 15 points, including the game-sealing turnaround jumper, 75-71, with 20.8 seconds left.
He also grabbed seven rebounds with two assists and a block to boot.
Oczon said he is feeling much better and credited his coaches for his readiness heading into the crucial Game 2.
“I want to give credit to our strength and conditioning coaches who helped me recover from my injury. My ankle is at 90-95 percent so hopefully, by Game 3, it’s all OK,” he said.
St. Benilde shoots for its first NCAA championship in 22 years while Letran goes for a third consecutive title on Saturday at Ynares Center in Antipolo.