Mark Sangco punctured the hoops with a career-high 19 points to go with 12 rebounds as he led the College of St. Benilde Blazers to a 82-73 thumping of the San Beda Red Lions on Tuesday in the 98th National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament at the FilOil-EcoOil Arena in San Juan.
Sangco drilled in back-to-back baskets in the last 9:11, touching off a pivotal scoring run which gave the Blazers enough room to eke out their 14th triumph in 18 games at the end of the two-round eliminations.
With their fourth straight win, the Blazers moved to the top of the standings and formally earned a twice-to-beat incentive in the Final Four.
The defending champion Letran Knights (13-4), who are at no. 2 spot, can still claim the top seeding if they beat the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers in their 3 p.m. game Wednesday.
“We worked hard to be in this position. It’s a good feeling,” said Blazers’ coach Charles Tiu.
Miguel Corteza and Will Gozum shot 15 points apiece for the Blazers, who were slightly ahead, 63-60, at the start of their decisive breakaway. They were comfortably in front by 11, 71-60, in the 8:12 mark off Corteza’s layup.
The Blazers, with James Pasturan adding 13 points, are in for a clash against the Lyceum Pirates in the Final Four.
James Kwekuteye and JB Bahio showed the way with the 18 points for Red Lions, who fell to the no. 4 position with a 12-6 card in a tie with the Pirates. They will most likely meet the Knights in the semis.
Meanwhile, the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals displayed composure at endgame and toppled the Arellano University Chiefs in overtime, 63-62.
The Chiefs bungled two chances to win the contest on a turnover and two missed baskets from Axel Doromal in the final minute.
With JP Maguliano shooting 18 points, the Generals went on to finish their campaign with a 3-15 win-loss record.
As Maguliano finalized the count with his two charities with 1:29 to go, the Chiefs could not cash in on their winning chances, with Doromal missing easy shots in the 46-second and three-second marks.
Adrian Balowa’s triple in the last 4.1 seconds forced the overtime, 54-all.
“Very proud of the boys. Kung nakuha namin iyung character na ito (composure) from the start, nagtuluy-tuloy sana kami. Sana, sa last game na ito ay madala nila ang mga natutunan nila for next season, like how to handle pressure and stay composed,” said EAC coach Oliver Bunyi.
EAC 63—Maguliano 18, Cosejo 14, Balowa 12, Bajon 12, Tolentino 3, Dominguez 2, Bacud 1, Luciano 1, Cosa 0, An. Doria 0, Umpad 0, Quinal 0, Angeles 0.
Arellano 62—Doromal 25, Flores 12, Talampas 12, Tolentino 5, Oliva 4, Mantua 2, Mallari 2, Oftana 0, Sunga 0, Abastillas 0.
Quarterscores: 13-15, 20-27, 35-41, 54-54, 63-62
CSB 82 — Sangco 19, Gozum 15, Corteza 15, Pasturan 13, Oczon 9, Carlos 5, Cullar 2, Nayve 2, Lepalam 2, Marcos 0, Davis 0.
SAN BEDA 73 — Bahio 18, Kwekuteye 18, Cometa 12, Andrada 6, Cortez 6, Ynot 4, Alfaro 4, Cuntapay 3, Sanchez 2, Visser 0.
Quarters: 26-26, 42-51, 63-60, 82-73.