San Sebastian College overcame a rusty start with an awesome offensive in the second half to crush College of St. Benilde, 75-62, and remain undefeated in the 85th NCAA men’s basketball tournament yesterday at The Arena in San Juan.
Rookie Calvin Abueva scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and got 10 rebounds as the Stags seized the solo lead in the 10-team field with their third straight victory.
The Blazers, who had their finest start since their banner year in 2000, dropped to 2-1 along with idle San Beda College and Arellano University.
In the first game, Letran College finally nailed its first victory as it trampled University of Perpetual Help, 73-68, behind a blistering late-game assault.
With RJ Jazul leading the charge, the Knights torched a sizzling 23-9 rally in regulations to barge into the win column following two luckless starts, helping their mentor, Louie Alas, avoid what could have been his ugliest start since re-joining Letran in 2003.
Jazul knocked down 24 points and issued five assists and grabbed rebounds while another Smart- Gilas RP Team standout, Rey Guevarra, chipped in 14 points for Letran, the winningest ballclub in the country’s oldest collegiate league.
But the day’s highlight went to San Sebastian, owner of five consecutive titles in the mid-90s.
“We’re glad to have the solo lead, but it’s still a long way to go,” San Sebastian coach Ato Agustin said. “We still have 15 games left and it’s too early to celebrate. We just have to go out there and work for the days to come.”
Chief gunner Jimbo Aquino also had 17 points to complement the hardworking Abueva underneath and was instrumental when the Stags erected a 15-point lead down the stretch, 64-49, enough to send the Blazers scrambling and eventually to their meltdown.
Aside from waging an oozing 10-0 blast in the third period which left the Blazers groping for form, San Sebastian also battered Sain Benilde underneath, 46-31, and had more assists than Saint Benilde could dish off, 17-9.