Stags spoil fancied Blazers' opening salvo
MANILA, Philippines – San Sebastian pulled away late behind RK Ilagan and Mike Calisaan as the Stags emerged on top of a fiercely competitive bout with the St. Benilde Blazers, 85-78, in the NCAA Season 94 men's basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre, Friday, July 13.
After a deadlock at 70, the Stags surged to an 80-74 advantage after a 10-4 spurt capped by Ilagan finding a galloping Calisaan on the break for an easy layup with 3:07 minutes left.
Ilagan sank one more trey for the dagger, 83-76, with 1:36 remaining.
Stags head coach Egay Macaraya praised his boys’ composure, while also acknowledging the improvement of former bottom-dwelling Blazers, who tied them up 44-all at the half even minus Benilde big man Clement Leutcheu.
“The boys really wanted to win,” Macaraya said in the post-game presser. “Nakita naman natin yung intensity nila for the whole game. Also, give credit to Benilde, because yung Benilde ngayon di naman yung team na katulad dati eh. I know the team is improving a lot and capable of going to the Final 4.”
(We saw their intensity the entire game. Also, give credit to Benilde, because Benilde today is not like the team last year. I know the team is improving a lot and capable of going to the Final 4.)
The veterans bailed out the Stags with Calisaan (18 points), Ilagan (16 points) and Allyn Bulanadi (13 points) combining for 47 of the team's 85-point total.
Calisaan added 10 rebounds and 4 steals for the double-double for the Stags, who rebounded from a first-day loss to Lyceum.
The Blazers, who had a surprisingly impressive preseason run, had a balanced attack led by Edward Dixon's 12 points.
Yankie Haruna – who responded to Ilagan's corner with a driving layup that knotted the contest at 70 – scored 10 in his NCAA return after sitting out a majority of last season with a shoulder injury.
Blazer rookie and former De La Salle-Zobel star Prince Carlos debuted with 5 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
SAN SEBASTIAN (85) – Calisaan 18, Ilagan 16, Bulanadi 13, Calma 10, Capobres 7, Villapando 7, Dela Cruz 6, Are 4, Sumoda 4, Desoyo 0, Valdez 0.
ST. BENILDE (78) – Dixon 12, Haruna 10, Pasturan 9, Gutang 8, Belgica 6, Leutcheu 6, Young 6, Carlos 5, Naboa 5, Velasco 4, Pagulayan 3, Domingo 2, Nayve 2, Barnes 0.
Quarter scores: 24-27, 44-44, 63-64, 85-78.