MANILA, Philippines - San Sebastian nearly blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead and scrambled at endgame to hack out a 75-74 victory over St. Benilde and wrest the solo lead in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan on Monday.
Anthony del Rio missed three charities but hit the fourth foul shot that proved to be the marginal point for the Stags, who posted a big 68-51 lead midway in the final period but nearly squandered it in the face of the Blazers’ fiery fightback.
Ranged against an unfancied team, SSC coach Ato Agustin gave his starters a much needed break, using them sparingly while trying on new combinations.
“We were giving our other players a chance because I’m trying to rest my veterans, they were a little bit spent in our last game,” said Agustin, whose Stags had to survive the Jose Rizal Bombers to carve out a 72-59 win last Friday.
In the other seniors game, Mapua blasted Emilio Aguinaldo, 82-68, to gain a share of third spot with JRU on 4-2 record.
Skipper John Raymundo and Calvin Abueva, however, still led SSC with 12 points apiece while Ronald Pascual added 10 points despite playing minimal minutes.
Carlo Lastimosa led all scorers with 20 points but fouled out down the stretch while Mark de Guzman and Mc Abolucion chipped in 13 and 10 points for St. Benilde. But the troika lost steam, enabling the Stags to erect a 17-point cushion.
The Blazers fell to their third defeat against a win while the Generals took their fourth loss in five games.
In juniors’ action, St. Benilde humbled San Sebastian, 71-65, to seize solo second with a 3-1 slate.
Mapua, meanwhile, leaned on Rodolfo Alejandro’s 31-point explosion as it walloped EAC, 88-74, to improve to 3-3.
The Staglets and the Brigadiers fell to 3-3 and 1-4 records, respectively.