Blazers, Altas squeak past foes in Day 2 of NCAA 95
Rick Olivares ( - July 10, 2019 - 12:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — The second day of 95th NCAA seniors basketball tournament was certainly not wanting in drama and nailbiters.

The College of St. Benilde Blazers and the Perpetual Help Altas each carved out close wins for their first triumph of the brand new campaign.

The Blazers survived a near meltdown for a 69-66 win over Emilio Aguinaldo College. The Blazers posted a 17-point lead in the third period but EAC charged right back with the hard working duo of JP Maguliano and Jethro Mendoza. In a battle of ineptness from on the offensive end, the Blazers only managed two free throws in the final 4:29. EAC was no better as they botched possession after possession.

While it was a close win, it avenged their preseason blowout loss to the Generals and bolstered their own confidence. This was similar to Lyceum of the Philippines University’s win over Letran where CSB got a win despite missing two key cogs in Yanqui Haruna and Clement Leutcheu.

James Pasturan and Justin Gutang carried the cudgels for CSB that got subpar performances from Edward Dixon, Carlo Young and the others. CSB also has to look at their poor free throw shooting (6-15 for 40% shooting) and field goal shooting (36%) that was also the near culprit.

The Generals did much better knocking down 14 of 22 free throw attempts for a 63% accuracy clip and 41% from the field. If EAC wasn’t in that late hole, it could have gone their way once more.

JP Maguliano, Jethro Mendoza and JC Luciano strapped the Generals on their backs. Marwin Taywan, Philip Tampoc and Kyle Carlos didn’t play well. Credit CSB for their defense on those three. CJ Cadua and Allan Martin were likewise ineffective.

In the other match, the Altas also got away with a later turnover and a missed free throw in the final 30 seconds to escape the Mapua Cardinals, 80-78.

The Altas continue to surprise. Even without Prince Eze, they did well and held off a Cardinals team that is talented but needs time to jell and gain more experience. The pickup of Cyrill Gonzales is huge as he is a player who isn’t afraid to mix it up inside and get those extra possessions.

This is a team of unheralded players who have found purpose and opportunity under second year head coach Frankie Lim. Ben Adamos finally made his NCAA debut with the Altas after transferring from San Beda. With eight points and 10 boards, that wasn’t a bad day for Adamos.

Despite the scoring coming mainly from Rey Peralta, Charcos and Jielo Razon, capable support arrived from the rest of the team. Kim Aurin, who gave a good account of himself last season, came off the bench. He still chipped in nine points. Expect him to do better and maybe even slide in to the starting unit at some point.

Mapua, also largely due to Gonzales, did well in second chance points. Gonzales’ impact helps a lot because of Christian Buñag’s inconsistency. Laurenz Victoria only caught fire late in the game. 

If the Cardinals want to make serious headway in this NCAA season, they will need Victoria, Denniel Aguirre, Justin Serrano and Buñag to really step up. Unfortunately, they didn’t in this game. They need to because their next assignment is against the San Sebastian Golden Stags, who blew out Jose Rizal University, 82-59.

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