MANILA – College of St. Benilde returned from a two-week layoff to take down the Arellano Chiefs, 82-77, and remain undefeated in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Blazers last played on July 30 when they defeated San Sebastian, and saw their next three playdates washed out by inclement weather and class suspensions.
They had to shake off a slow start and withstand a furious last minute rally by the Chiefs, to improve their record to 5-0 and tie defending champion San Beda at the top of the league standings.
Clement Leutcheu had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while Justin Gutang played his first game since suffering a knee injury to put up 12 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
A buzzer-beating shot by Leutcheu gave St. Benilde a slim 35-34 lead heading into the halftime break, and they built on it in the third quarter thanks to buckets by Yankie Haruna and Robi Nayve.
The Blazers looked all set for a comfortable win after a three-pointer by Jimboy Pasturan put them up 69-56 with 6:20 to go, but Arellano star Kent Salado spurred a 10-5 run that made it an 8-point game, 74-66, with still over four minutes left.
But Haruna nailed a big three-pointer and Nayve added one more long-range shot to push Benilde ahead, 82-67, with just 1:49 to play.
The Chiefs threatened late, pouncing on St. Benilde's turnovers to string together 10 straight points. They were down by five points, 82-77, with 16 seconds left, and the Blazers left the door open for Arellano when Nayve bricked two free throws.
Fortunately for St. Benilde, they held on as Marlon Espiritu bobbled the ball in Arellano's final possession.
Going down the drain in the loss was Justin Arana's 25-point, 9-rebound effort. Raymart Sablan added 11 points, while Salado had 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting, along with 6 turnovers.
The Chiefs dropped their third straight game and now have a 1-6 win-loss record.
CSB 82 - Leutcheu 13, Gutang 12, Haruna 11, Pasturan 10, Nayve 9, Dixon 8, Naboa 7, Carlos 5, Flores 3, Belgica 2, Lepalam 2, Sanco 0, Young 0, Velasco 0.
AU 77 - Arana 25, Sablan 11, Salado 10, Espiritu 8, Talampas 6, Oliva 6, Alcoriza 5, Santos 5, Concepcion 1, Bayla 1, De Guzman 0.
Quarterscores: 18-13, 35-34, 60-52, 82-77.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.