MANILA, Philippines – After a 20-year drought, the CSB Blazers are headed back to the NCAA finals following a nail-biting 62-61 Final Four victory over the San Beda Red Lions in the Season 98 men’s basketball tournament at the FilOil EcoOil Centre on Tuesday, November 29.
Miguel Oczon stepped up big time for CSB and delivered a game-high 17 points on a perfect 8-of-8 clip from the free-throw line, including two crucial charities in the final 12.7 seconds that extended the Blazers’ lead to 3 points, 62-59.
San Beda’s graduating star James Kwekuteye, who converted on a huge long bomb prior to Oczon’s two pressure-packed free throws, had two chances to tie the game in the next play, but his three-pointers from the right corner both failed to hit the mark as the top-seeded Blazers escaped with the win.
James Pasturan backstopped Oczon with 16 points on an efficient 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, while top NCAA Season 98 MVP candidate Will Gozum registered a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“I’m just so thankful right now. We had some luck down the stretch, but I guess sometimes that’s basketball,” said CSB head coach Charles Tiu.
“San Beda played a great game, so much respect to coach Yuri and the guys out there. That was really a tough, tough game.”
“I really hope that this year will be our year. I hope it’s going to be our destiny, but of course finals will be tougher against Letran or Lyceum,” added Tiu as the Blazers will face the winner of the Final Four series between the defending champion Knights and the Pirates.
Jacob Cortez, who sparked San Beda’s fiery 2nd-quarter surge that kept them in the game after trailing early by a dozen, finished with a team-high 13 points, while Kwekuteye had a near double-double of 11 markers and 9 boards in his final game in a Red Lions uniform.
CSB 62 – Oczon 17, Pasturan 16, Gozum 10, Nayve 8, Corteza 7, Sangco 4, Cullar 0, Carlos 0, Marcos 0, Lepalam 0, Lim 0.
San Beda 61 – Cortez 13, Kwekuteye 11, Bahio 9, Sanchez 8, Ynot 6, Cuntapay 4, Andrada 3, Cometa 3, Alfaro 2, Visser 2, Payosing 0.
Quarters: 19-14, 34-31, 54-48, 62-61.