Almazan lifts Knights past Blazers in NCAA
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - July 14, 2013 - 12:00am

Games tomorrow (The Arena, San Juan)

4 p.m. – Jose Rizal vs EAC

6 p.m. – Mapua vs San Beda

MANILA, Philippines - Raymond Almazan put in the go-ahead follow-up shot with 25 seconds left then Letran watched Luis Antonio Sinco muff pressure-laden free throws as the Knights kept their unbeaten run in the NCAA Season 89 men’s basketball tournament with a 61-60 nipping of the hard-luck St. Benilde Blazers at The Arena in San Juan last night.

Fouled by Mark Cruz while shooting a trey with 1.8 seconds left, Sinco missed two of the three gift shots allowing the Knights to escape with a fourth straight win.

The Blazers, meanwhile, reeled with a fourth consecutive loss in yet another heartbreaker for the season hosts.

St. Benilde lost each of its first four games in the tourney by no more than two points.

Coach Gabby Velasco and his troops earlier suffered numbing losses to the San Beda Red Lions (70-71), the EAC Generals (72-73) and the JRU Bombers (71-73).

Kevin Racal came through with 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists with Cruz and Almazan combining for 22 markers as the Knights kept their perfect run and moved a game in front of the second-running San Beda Lions (3-1).

Paolo Romero paced the losing team also with 18.

Earlier, Perpetual Help pressed on both ends in the homestretch and repulsed Lyceum, 71-66.

Nigerian Nosa Omorogbe led his team with 19 points with rookie Juneric Baloria adding 18 as the Altas bounced back from a loss to the San Sebastian Stags Monday and drew level with the San Beda Red Lions at 3-1.

“It’s our defense in the final minutes that helped us win this game,” said Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario in Filipino.

After Lyceum’s John Azores scored to knot the count at 59-all with 5.46 minutes remaining, the Altas put up a defensive wall, frustrating the Pirates who suffered a second loss in four starts.

Perpetual Help put the game away on a 12-7 closing run.

Baloria, a rookie discovered by Del Rosario in the Angeles City playgrounds, came through with another sterling game in a follow-up to his 33-point explosion the last time out.

“We saw him playing in an inter-barangay tournament and instantly we sensed he’s this good,” said Del Rosario of Baloria.

Led by Omorogbe and Baloria, the Altas took command early and sat on a 42-30 cushion at the half.

But the Pirates, led by Dexter Zamora’s 13 points and Shane Ko’s 11, slowly but surely fought into the game, forging a tie at, 55-all at the end of the third.

Lyceum stuck close with Perpetual until the latter made big stops and big baskets at the finish.

AFTER LYCEUM ALTAS ANGELES CITY BUT THE PIRATES COACH GABBY VELASCO CRUZ AND ALMAZAN DEL ROSARIO PERPETUAL HELP SAN BEDA RED LIONS SAN JUAN
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