By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
JOINT fourth place as they begin their National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 95 second-round bid, the San Sebastian Stags and College of Saint Benilde Blazers go for the tie-breaker and fortify their place in the top four when they collide today at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Both sporting identical 6-3 cards, the Stags and Blazers look to keep in step with the league leaders — San Beda Red Lions (10-0), Lyceum Pirates (7-3) and Letran Knights (7-3) — in their scheduled 2 p.m. game.
After hitting a rough patch midway into the first round of NCAA Season 95, the Stags finished in a flurry, winning four straight to make their way to the top half of the pack in the race.
Forward Allyn Bulanadi has been stepping up for San Sebastian, especially in their ongoing ascent. He has been solid for 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Veteran playmaker RK Ilagan has been good for 14.9 points and 4.7 assists while Alvin Capobres is adding 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds.
The Stags lost to the Blazers in their first encounter this season, 77-72, on July 30, something they hope to make up for in their reengagement.
“Everybody has been doing their part and hopefully we get to sustain that moving forward,” said San Sebastian coach Egay Macaraya after wrapping up their first-round assignment last week.
CSB, for its part, had it rough at the tailend of the opening round after going on a solid start to the season with five straight victories.
In their win over the Stags the first time around, Yankee Haruna gave the Blazers a much-needed boost off an injury (broken jaw), finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Guard Unique Naboa also came up big with 15 points, four of which coming in the dying seconds of the match which were a huge boost to his team.
Chris Flores had 14 points and five rebounds while Clement Leutche had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Blazers.
Playing in the second game at 4 p.m., meanwhile, are Lyceum and the Perpetual Help Altas (3-6).
OFTANA LEADS MVP RACE
Meanwhile, early results of the most valuable player race in NCAA 95 were released early this week with San Beda forward Calvin Oftana in front with a player’s average value of 51.22.
Oftana has been averaged 15.5 points in nine games in the first round to go along with 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 blocks.
Evan Nelle also of the Lions is second with 44.11 PAV, followed by Bulanadi (43.78), Donald Tankoua and James Canlas of San Beda with 43.44 and 41.56 PAV, respectively.
Rounding out the top 10 are CSB’s Justin Gutang (40.75), Lyceum’s Jaycee Marcelino (39.75) and Mike Nzeusseu (38.67), Letran’s Larry Muyang (37.89) and Perpetual Help’s Ben Adamos (37.44).