The CSB Blazers dodged a bullet in their opening game, overcoming a furious rally by the EAC Generals to carve out a 69-66 win in the NCAA Season 95 Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Jimboy Pasturan led the scoring for the Blazers with 19 points, anchored by five triples. Justin Gutang, meanwhile, had a strong double-double outing of 17 points and 12 rebounds.
"It's good to be back. Our first official win. My first official win in three years in the first game of the season," said a relieved TY Tang.
For the past two seasons, St. Benilde won its opening games by technicalities. In Season 95, coach Tang and his team nearly lost their debut by squandering a double-digit lead.
The Blazers were up 17 points, 65-48, with seven minutes left in the contest. They were well on their way to get their first win in dominating fashion but squandered their lead. Led by JP Maguilano, Marwin Taiwan, and Jethro Mendoza, the Generals stormed right back in the game with a 17-2 run. A basket by Kriss Gurtiza made it a two-point game, 67-65, with roughly two minutes remaining.
"We played well in the first half, but its all about consistency and sustainability. In the second half, we kinda got rattled out and egos came in," lamented Tang. "Instead of playing as a team, individual talents tried to overcome the game. Hopefully, we learn from it."
The Blazers were able to hold on thanks to their defense and free throws from Pasturan. EAC had a chance to send the game into overtime but Maguilano's 3-point attempt at the buzzer only caught iron.
Maguilano put up 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting and pulled down 14 rebounds. Mendoza was the other General in double-figures with 16 points.
"They held us down with our zone defense. We just couldn't execute and get the ball in the hoop," said Tang on their late-game blunders. "It's not about prep, but more so, you could say it was first game jitters, egos involved."
The Blazers were without veteran Yankie Haruna and reinforcement Clement Leutcheu. Haruna, who is nursing a broken jaw, is still day-to-day while Leutcheu will hopefully be back in their next game.
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
QUARTERS: 17-12, 37-23, 57-44, 69-66