MANILA, Philippines – The CSB Blazers barged into the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball tournament Final Four armed with a crucial twice-to-beat advantage after outgunning fellow contender the San Beda Red Lions, 82-73, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre on Tuesday, November 22.
Mark Sangco had one of his best games of the season yet with a game-high 19-point, 12-rebound double-double on a near-perfect 9-of-11 shooting, while Miggy Corteza scored 15 with 4 boards in just 20 minutes off the bench.
Top MVP candidate Will Gozum was no slouch, either, as the three-time Collegiate Press Corps Player of the Week continued his prolific streak with a 15-point, 10-board double-double plus 2 blocks and 1 steal in 26 minutes.
Veteran duo of James Kwekuteye and JB Bahio paced San Beda with 18 points apiece, while Gab Cometa chipped in 12 points in under 15 minutes off the bench.
Third-seeded LPU and fourth-placer San Beda now await their respective Final Four opponents as three-time defending champion Letran still has one assignment left against also-ran JRU.
Should the Knights lose in an upset, they will still have a twice-to-beat advantage, but they will instead face the Pirates in a #2 vs #3 series.
If they win, they will take the first seed despite having a tied record with CSB owing to a 2-0 elimination round sweep of the Blazers. This means that fans will immediately be treated to a Letran-San Beda rivalry series at the #1 vs. #4 bracket.
Meanwhile, in the first game of the doubleheader, the EAC Generals ended their season in style with a 63-62 overtime escape of the Arellano Chiefs.
Graduating forward JP Maguliano led the win with a farewell performance of 18 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block in just 26 minutes, while Nat Cosejo made the most of his 38-minute run with a 14-point, 14-board double-double.
Axel Doromal paced the loss with a game-high 25 points in nearly 39 minutes on the floor, making up for the loss of graduating guard Shane Menina, who left the team early due to the loss of his father.
EAC finished the season with a bottom-dwelling record of 3-15, while Arellano slid to a 7-11 slate with one game left.
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.
Quarters: 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.