MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Playing without the injured Justin Gutang, De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (CSB) made all the right plays down the stretch in beating San Sebastian College, 77-72, in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Jimboy Pasturan nailed the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:23 to go to give the Blazers a 73-72 lead, and they stood firm defensively in the final minute of the game to deny the Golden Stags.
The Blazers remain unbeaten at 4-0, tying defending champion San Beda University at the top of the league standings. This is also their best start ever since joining the NCAA in 1998.
Meanwhile, San Sebastian lost for the third consecutive game.
"Again, what's important for us is being able to stick together all throughout the game, staying calm and composed, and being able to find ways to win the game," said CSB head coach TY Tang.
"Today, it was just that. We were playing against probably a contender team out there, but we were able to hold them down as well," he added.
Without Gutang, who suffered a knee injury in their previous contest against Mapua University last Thursday, the Blazers leaned on their balanced offense to get the job done. Unique Naboa led the Blazers with 15 points, while Chris Flores had 14 points. Pasturan and Clement Leutcheu had 12 points, while Yankie Haruna -- playing for the first time this season -- had 10 points and 7 rebounds.
It was a come-from-behind win for the Blazers, who trailed 40-30 at the half and were still down 58-54 after the third quarter.
They rallied back, thanks in part to Pasturan, whose three-pointer at the 7:03 mark sparked an 8-2 run that pushed them ahead, 65-62, with 5:13 to go. It was back-and-forth from there, with RK Ilagan hitting big shots while the Blazers stayed close through their free throws.
A split at the line by Ken Villapando gave the Stags a two-point cushion, 72-70, with 1:33 left, but Pasturan broke free for the go-ahead three-pointer in CSB's next possession.
The Stags had their chances to take back the lead, but Alvin Capobres and Allyn Bulanadi both missed at the rim, paving the way for Naboa to ice the game at the free throw line.
CSB shot only 33.96% from the field, but made up for it by making 38 of 42 free throw attempts.
Ilagan, who averaged just 1.5 points in back-to-back losses to Lyceum of the Philippines University and San Beda, exploded for 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting. But he also missed a three-pointer with under 5 seconds left that could have tied the ball game.
Bulanadi finished with 17 points, as they were the only two players from San Sebastian to reach double-digits.
The Golden Stags are now 2-3 in the tournament.
CSB 77 - Naboa 15, Flores 14, Pasturan 12, Leutcheu 12, Haruna 10, Belgica 6, Sangco 4, Dixon 2, Carlos 2, Young 0, Lepalam 0
SAN SEBASTIAN 72 - Ilagan 24, Bulanadi 17, Capobres 7, Calma 7, Sumoda 7, Tero 4, Altamirano 3, Calahat 2, Villapando 1, Dela Cruz 0, Desoyo 0, Loristo 0, Suico 0
Quarter scores: 16-18, 30-40, 54-58, 77-72
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