The Benilde Blazers have jumped out to their best start in more than a decade. With their 71-67 win over the Mapua Cardinals, Benilde now stands at 3-0, their best opening record since 2005. Mapua remains winless in four games.
Justin Gutang led the Blazers with 12 points and five rebounds. James Pasturan backed him up with 11 points and six rebounds. Clement Leutcheu had 11 points as well. The Blazers got production from a bulk of their roster as three other players scored at least eight points to pitch in. Arvin Gamboa led Mapua in scoring with 14 points.
Facing the Cardinals on their home court, the Blazers couldn’t pull away. They did enough damage however to stay ahead of Mapua for most of the game. The Blazers spread out their scoring, keeping their attack balanced and unpredictable to keep the Cardinals on their feet. They took a five-point lead at the half and held on to the driver’s seat all the way to the final minutes of the game.
Things got testy in the final minute as Gutang was fouled by Noah Lugo on the break, causing a nasty fall and a scuffle between both teams. Gutang finished the layup and buried the free throw to put Benilde up by seven. The Cardinals tried to fight back, cutting the deficit down to just two after a Lugo three-pointer. But Edward Dixon sealed the win with two clutch free throws in the waning moments of the game.
NCAA File Photo