By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
ONE OF JUST two teams left sans a loss in Season 95 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the College of Saint Benilde Blazers look to continue to roll when they return to league action today at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Set for 4 p.m., the Taft-based Blazers (3-0) collide with the suddenly skidding San Sebastian Stags (2-2) with an eye on keeping its slate clean and staying in step with league-leading San Beda Red Lions (4-0) on top of the standings.
Also playing today are the streaking Letran Knights (4-1) against the tailending Mapua Cardinals (0-4) at 12 noon and middling squads Perpetual Help Altas (1-3) and Arellano Chiefs (1-3) at 2 p.m.
The Blazers are fresh from their 71-67 win over Mapua in an NCAA on Tour fare on July 25 at the Cardinals’ turf in Intramuros.
The trio of Justin Gutang, Clement Leutcheu and James Pasturan led Saint Benilde to the victory, finishing with 12, 11 and 11 points, respectively.
They combined for the 18 of the team’s 25 points in the payoff quarter, which proved to be the difference as they made their way to the win.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, Gutang was helped out in the dying seconds of the match after hurting his left leg.
Despite the strong start they are having in the ongoing season of the country’s oldest collegiate league, Blazers coach TY Tang said they are not getting ahead of themselves, recognizing that it is still too early in the race, and that they are taking things one game at a time.
Looking to send Saint Benilde crashing is San Sebastian, which has seen its promising 2-0 start to the tournament negated after losing back-to-back matches since.
The latest of the defeats of the Stags came at the hands of rival San Beda, 73-59, on July 26, in a game where San Sebastian once again could not sustain their solid game to start things, much like what happened against the Lyceum Pirates in a previous loss.
The Stags had control of the opening half, 35-32, but just could not keep in step with the Lions for the remainder of the contest.
In four games to date, Allyn Bulanadi leads San Sebastian with 12.8 points a game, followed by RK Ilagan with 12 points per contest and Alvin Capobres 10.3 points per outing.
Meanwhile, San Beda forward Calvin Oftana is the reigning NCAA player of the week, boosted by his solid outing against San Sebastian last Friday.
Oftana finished with a near triple-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Eight of his points came in the payoff period, helping his team to the win over the Stags.
In winning the weekly award, handed by media covering the league, Oftana beat out Renzon Navarro of Lyceum, Ato Ular of Letran, CSB’s Pasturan and Ken Salado of Arellano.