College of St. Benilde lost a 17-point lead, but still had more than enough to put away Emilio Aguinaldo College, 69-66, for a breakthrough win in just its first try in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament, Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre.
Filipino-American swingman Justin Gutang posted a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double while Jimboy Pasturan top-scored with 19 markers for the Blazers who also had to overcome the absence of injured Cameroonian slotman Clement Leutcheu and do-it-all forward Yankie Haruna.
It was also Gutang and Pasturan who made good on 3-of-6 free throws in the last minute to keep the Generals at bay once and for all. "We played well in the first half, but it's all about consistency," head coach TY Tang said post-game.
The Blazers boosted to a 17-point lead in the second quarter, but allowed their opponents to claw their way back little by little.
EAC was right at the doorstep as Kris Gurtiza's inside basket punctuated a 17-2 run and pulled them within two, 65-67, with two minutes remaining.
It was at that point that the Taft-based team's defense stood strong, however, and allowed no more field goals.
Gutang and Pasturan then took care of business at the other end to allow coach TY to celebrate a season-opening win that was well-earned on-court. "It's good to be back. It's good to have our first official win in three years in the first game of the season," coach TY said.
In his last two years, the youthful mentor won his first games of the tournament due to a uniform mishap and a "ligang labas" issue, respectively.
This time, there were no more questions about it as he also got contributions from stocky guard Unique Naboa who had seven points and five rebounds as well as rookie tower Ladis Lepalam who had seven markers, four boards, and two blocks.
On the other hand, the Generals fell short of gifting new head coach Oliver Bunyi a breakthrough win despite the best efforts of JP Maguliano who had 18 points and 14 rebounds to his name.
CSB 69 - Pasturan 19, Gutang 17, Naboa 7, Lepalam 7, Carlos 5, Dixon 4, Nayve 3, Flores 3, Belgica 2, Sangco 2, Young 0
EAC 66 - Maguliano 18, Mendoza 16, Luciano 8, Taywan 6, Tampoc 6, Gonzales 4, Gurtiza 4, Estacio 4, Martin 0, Carlos 0, Corilla 0, Cadua 0, Dayrit 0, De Guzman 0
QUARTER SCORES: 17-12, 37-23, 57-44, 69-66
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