NCAA Finals: Challenged by coach, Will Gozum shows MVP mettle for Benilde
MANILA, Philippines—College of St. Benilde star and newly-minted MVP Will Gozum found extra motivation in Game 2 of the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball Finals on Sunday.
After the Blazers’ 81-75 loss in the finals opener, CSB coach Charles Tiu lauded Letran center Louie Sangalang for leading the Knights to victory.
Sangalang finished with a career-high 24 that went with 10 rebounds to outplay Gozum, drawing high praise from Tiu, who described the bruiser as the MVP of Game 1.
Tiu’s statement lit the fire in Gozum.
“I challenged myself after that. Louie is heavy and hard to stop so I challenged myself and it worked. Of course, I credit the coaches for that,” said Gozum after Benilde’s 76-71 win in Game 2.
Gozum responded with 21 points and 10 rebounds while limiting Sangalang to just 11 points and 10 rebounds.
He also hit a tough lefty drive that put the Blazers ahead, 73-71, with 55 seconds remaining.
“He made a big basket down the stretch, with his left—and I always tell him he doesn’t have a lefty shot—and he looked like the MVP today,” Tiu said.
“Actually, I work on that (left-handed shot), sometimes that’s really my weakness, but I work on it,” Gozum said.
Gozum hopes to lead Benilde to its first NCAA title in 22 years on Saturday at Ynares Center in Antipolo.