Guns blazing for St. Benilde

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star
Guns blazing for St. Benilde
St. Benilde’s Miguel Oczon (left) and EAC’s Nat Cosejo battle for position in the Blazers’ 73-61 victory yesterday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — College of St. Benilde’s title drive is fuelled mainly by a sleek running game and a deep bench.

Both clicked yesterday.

Buoyed by the return of super-sub Miguel Oczon from a two-game absence, the Blazers weathered the Emilio Aguinaldo Generals’ repeated comebacks in hammering out a 73-61 victory and seizing the solo lead in NCAA Season 98 at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

Oczon, who was sidelined for a couple of matches due to health reasons, came off the bench and delivered a masterful 14-point, five-rebound and three-assist performance in powering CSB straight to the top with a 4-1 record.

It also rekindled the Blazers’ hopes for a second NCAA championship since snaring their breakthrough crown 22 years ago.

“I’m just repaying the trust given to me by my teammates and coaches, who also want to win the championships,” said the proud son of Davao and rookie transferee from National University.

Oczon teamed up with Miguel Corteza, who scattered 12 points, in powering CSB’s bench in dominating its EAC counterpart, 41-16.

He was also the spark that got the Blazers off and running as they totally outgunned and outran the Generals in that department, 17-0.

EAC, through the stubborn and scrappy troika of Ralph Robin, Allen Liwag and JP Maguliano, repeatedly showed some fight and kept closing the gap despite trailing by double digits several times.

But the Generals eventually ran out steam in the fourth quarter when the Blazers finally put some separation as the former sputtered to their fifth straight defeat.

MVP candidate Will Gozum also provided the needed muscle inside for CSB as he unloaded his fourth double-double performance in the season with 11 points and 13 boards.

In the end though, it was Oczon’s clutch game that saved the day.

Meanwhile, the league has forfeited Mapua’s 66-55 win over San Beda last Sept. 10 after the former fielded an ineligible player in Gab Gamboa, who was allegedly cross-enrolled with St. Clare College in Caloocan.

This meant the Lions improved to 4-1 while the Cardinals sank to 0-6.

In the other game, University of Perpetual Help edged San Sebastian, 61-57, to improve to 3-3.

The Stags fell to 2-3.


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