Saint Benilde, playing without two of their best offensive players in Carlo Lastimosa and Joel Tolentino, leaned on their defense instead as they downed the Arellano Chiefs, 74-69, in their second to last game in Season 88 of the NCAA Monday at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
Mark Romero finished with 17 points, four rebounds and two assists while four other Blazers scored in double figures.
“It’s good kahit wala yung dalawa (Lastimosa and Tolentino), the rest of the team showed na kaya manalo,” said St. Benilde coach Richard Del Rosario. “Nawala yung two best offensive players ko pero hindi naman sila yung best defensive players.”
“They tried to win on defense at nagkatulungan naman. They all played well together today.”
It was a close game in the opening quarter with the Blazers barely hanging onto a one-point lead at the end of the first 10 minutes of action. But Romero and Luis Sinco stepped up in the second, combining for 15 of the team’s 25 points as they pushed their lead up to eight at the intermission.
Arellano rallied in the third, outscoring St. Benilde by three to cut the lead to five, 57-52, behind an eight-point quarter from Prince Caperal. They continued their steady play in the fourth, and even took the lead after John Pinto scored a basket at the 6:48 mark that gave the Chiefs a 63-62 lead. Levi Hernandez followed it up with another basket to make it 65-62 with about five minutes left on the clock.
But the Blazers rallied came back, scoring six straight points to take a 68-65 lead with over three minutes to play. They never looked back after that, holding onto the lead until the final buzzer.
Caperal finished with a double-double of 15 points and thirteen boards for the Chiefs, who will wrap up their season on Saturday against Letran.
The Blazers will face the Mapua Cardinals, their final assignment of the season, on the same day.
Saint Benilde (74) — Romero 17, Dela Paz 14, Taha 13, Grey 11, Sinco 10, Ongteco 4, Deles 4, Tan 1, Maconocido -, Garcia 0, Carlos 0.
Arellano (69) — Pinto 16, Zulueta 16, Caperal 15, Hernandez 8, Acidre 6, Forrester 3, Salcedo 3, Bangga 2, Cadavis 0, Palma 0.
Quarterscores: 15-14, 40-32, 57-52, 74-69.