MANILA, Philippines – San Beda moved within a win of an outright finals berth after the unbeaten Red Lions picked up their 17th straight victory in the NCAA Season 95 men’s basketball tournament.
Calvin Oftana’s stellar performance in the second half propelled San Beda to its 17th straight victory as the mighty Red Lions annihilated the St Benilde Blazers, 95-73, on Thursday, October 10 at Filoil Flying V Centre.
Despite trailing at the end of first half, the Red Lions used a 31-point 3rd quarter anchored on Oftana and Peter Alfaro on the way to a commanding victory.
Oftana posted a career-high 29 points built on an 11-of-17 clip from the field and added 9 boards and 5 assists as James Canlas chipped in 21 markers, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
Donald Tankoua and AC Soberano powered the Red Lions in the first half and collected 13 and 10 points, respectively, while Aflaro, who only played in 9 minutes, scored all his 9 points in the 3rd period on an efficient 4-of-5 shooting.
The defending champs scorched hot early from beyond the arc and neutralized Justin Gutang’s scoring spree by knocking in 5 three-pointers in the opening quarter that gave them a 27-20 lead.
But the Blazers, who played without ailing big man Clement Lentcheu, found their groove before the first half ended as Sangco’s buzzer-beater capped off their 13-0 run that gave CSB a 42-41 advantage as they head into the dugout.
Yankee Haruna kept their offense going and drained a triple in the 3rd period to extend their lead to 5 points, 50-45, but Benilde received a huge blow as Gutang got called for an unsportsmanlike foul with still 7:24 left in the quarter.
San Beda, on the other hand, did not waste any time and quickly stepped on the gas after Gutang’s departure with Oftana and Alfaro scoring 23 of San Beda’s huge 25-3 rally that gave them a dominant 70-53 lead.
The trigger-happy Lions did not look back and pulled away by 28 midway through the final quarter.
Gutang finished with 23 points and 5 rebounds while Carlo Young had 7 markers and 5 assists as the Blazers fell to 7-9.
Mapua stays alive, overwhelms San Sebastian
Mapua, meanwhile, snapped a two-game skid and kept its Final Four chances alive as the Cardinals relied on their hustle and three-point shooting to stun the No. 4 San Sebastian Stags, 90-73.
Mapua banked on its suffocating defense in the 4th quarter to shut down San Sebastian’s main gunners Allyn Bulanadi and RK Ilagan.
With their win, the Cardinals also saved the playoff bid of the No. 6 Blazers.
The two explosive guards of Mapua fueled their offense as Noah Lugo had 22 points, 4 boards, 4 assists and 2 steals while Laurenz Victoria added 18 markers, 5 boards and 4 dimes.
Cyril Gonzales, on the other hand, served as a sparkplug off the bench as he tallied 15 points in a 6-of-9 shooting for the Cardinals, who upped their slate to 8-8 .
Mapua found some firepower from their bench, banking on long-distance bombs to grab a 23-15 lead in the opening quarter.
More of the same happened in the 2nd frame with Garcia and Victoria drilling back-to-back triples for a 46-39 Mapua lead at the end of the first half.
The Stags tried to mount a comeback behind Ilagan, who scored 9 points in the 3rd period, but still couldn’t catch a break as Mapua’s lead ballooned to 12, 65-53 late in the 3rd.
Ken Villapando’s triple put them just two possessions behind, 72-66 with 5:45 left in the game. Lugo, though, answered back with 5 straight points to elevate the lead back to 11, 77-66, on the way to a 17-point blowout.
Ilagan had 19 points, 6 boards and 3 assists but gave up costly turnovers late in the game while Bulanadi fired 18 points but failed to convert a single basket in the final period of the match.
Rommel Calahat added 10 points and 5 boards while Villapando had 9 markers and 6 boards for San Sebastian, who slid to a 9-7 record.
San Beda 95 – Oftana 29, Canlas 21, Tankoua 13, Soberano 10, Alfaro 9, Nelle 9, Cuntapay 2, Doliguez 2, Abuda 0, Bahio 0, Carino 0, Etrata 0, Noah 0, Obenza 0.
St Benilde 73 – Gutang 23, Carlos 7, Dixon 7, Young 7, Belgica 6, Flores 6, Haruna 6, Sangco 5, Nayve 3, Mosqueda 3, Lim 0, Naboa 0.
Quarters: 27-20, 41-42, 72-58, 95-73.
Mapua 90 – Lugo 22, Victoria 18, Gonzales 15, Bunag 9, Gamboa 8, Garcia 6, Bonifacio 4, Nieles 2, Nocu 2, Salenga 2, Serrano 2, Aguirre 0, Dela Cruz 0
San Sebastian 73 – Ilagan 19, Bulanadi 18, Calahat 10, Villapando 9, Calma 4, Sumoda 4, Altamirano 3, Desoyo 2, Loristo 2, Suico 2, Tero 0, Isidro 0.
Quarters: 23-15, 46-39, 68-60, 90-73.