The College of Saint Benilde Blazers pulled off a surprise 83-76 victory against four-peat champion San Beda College Red Lions on Monday in the 90th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament at the San Juan Arena. The triumph, the Blazers’ third, is considered the most stunning so far in the ongoing elimination round.
Mark Romero notched nine points in the pivotal period while Jonathan Grey and John Paolo Taha posted six apiece also in the fourth quarter to save the day for the year 2000 champions Blazers.
With the victory, coach Gabby Velasco’s Blazers now share the fourth spot with host Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers that carry an identical 3-3 win-loss record.
The previously unbeaten Red Lions, on the other hand, dropped to a tie with new regular member Arellano Chiefs with similar 5-1 card at the top of the standings.
Provisionary league member Lyceum of the Philippine Pirates gained the most out of the Blazers’ win as they took solo third position with 4-3 record just a game ahead of the San Sebastian College Stags and University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas, who are both bearing 3-2 slates.
After falling behind, 25-23, in the first quarter, the Blazers led by Romero and Raphael Nayve brought the game to, 37-37, at the closing of the first half.
The score was locked anew, 55-55, in the third period before Romero posted six straight baskets allowing his team to grab the lead for good, 77-71, with still 3:28 remaining.
Romero finished with 20 points and six rebounds. He posted 26 points when his team beat Mapua, 79-72, on July 25.
Coach Velasco expressed elation over the Blazers’ back-to-back wins, saying it kept their hope of making it to the Final Four alive.
Team Standings W L
San Beda 5 1
Arellano U 5 1
Lyceum 4 2
Perpetual Help 3 2
Sebastian 3 2
Jose Rizal 3 3
St. Benilde 3 3
EAC 1 4
Letran 1 4
Mapua 0 6