College of St. Benilde returns to Final Four after 2 decades

WILL Gozum leads the CSB Blazers by delivering 25 points. — NCAA/SYNERGY-GMA

Games Wednesday(Filoil EcoOil)12 p.m. — LPU vs JRU3 p.m. — San Beda vs Letran

FOR the first time in exactly two decades, College of Saint Benilde (CSB)  will get to play in the NCAA Final Four where it will have a chance to go for another feat — a second championship since capturing its breakthrough crown 22 years ago.

Drawing a masterpiece from Will Gozum, the Blazers turned back the stubborn San Sebastian Golden Stags, 83-78, yesterday to secure a place in the next round of NCAA Season 98 at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

Mr. Gozum pounded his way to 25 points and 10 rebounds while topping it with six assists and two steals to help carry CSB to its 11th victory in 15 outings and reclaim its place at No. 2 behind leader Letran (12-3).

Most importantly, CSB has inched closer to its ultimate goal along — a second crown to add to its one magnificent trophy it won back in 2000.

“It’s great. We are happy it’s one of our small goals. Hopefully we can go past the Final Four and really make a run for the championship,” said CSB coach Charles Tiu. “Hopefully we mature and continue to grow as a team”.

The win also handed idle San Beda (10-5) the last Final Four seat on a silver platter while eliminating SSC, which fell to 6-9.

It didn’t help that SSC mentor Egay Macaraya was tossed out for two straight technical fouls after he entered the court late in the second quarter.

Mr. Macaraya was calmly asking the officials to review a regular foul called on CSB’s Carlo Lim on SSC’s Alex Desoyo that the veteran coach thought should have been a flagrant foul since the latter’s head was hit in that play.

But it escalated into a shouting match with the refs.

After a long discussion, game officials eventually granted the review and subsequently upgraded the foul to a flagrant while Mr. Macaraya’s two technical fouls stayed and he was tossed out.

Mr. Macaraya’s ejection proved decisive as the Stags looked like headless chickens without their bench tactician and just couldn’t turn things around in their favor. — Joey Villar

The Scores:

CSB 83 — Gozum 25, Corteza 18, Carlos 14, Oczon 10, Pasturan 8, Cullar 4, Lepalam 4, Nayve 0, Marcos 0, Sumabat 0, Davis 0, Lim 0

San Sebastian 78 — Altamirano 11, Calahat 11, Villapando 10, Desoyo 10, Sumoda 7, Escobido 7, Are 5, Cosari 5, Suico 5, Una 5, Aguilar 2, Yambing 0, Shanoda 0, Concha 0

Quarterscores: 20-21; 44-40; 63-57; 83-78