After an hour-long delay due to a wardrobe mix-up, the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Blazers and Perpetual Help System Dalta (UPHSD) Altas opened their 93rd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) season in a nail-biter (69-65) that left the former victorious today at Filoil Flying V Centre, San Juan.
With the goal to redeem themselves from what was a disastrous last season, rookie Head Coach TY Tang and his squad entered the game with a strong defense strategy and an aggressive force type of offense that kept the Blazers close early in the game (39-32). Led by Kendrix Belgica and Team Captain Gerald Castor, the Blazers managed to rally themselves throughout the whole game.
In the third quarter, the Benildeans looked hungrier than ever after stepping up their zone defense, making extra passes and converting their shots both from the three-point area and the paint. The run and gun offense of coach Tang was evident which helped the Blazers take the lead at the end of the quarter. The third quarter also ended on a classic half court shot converted by Carlo Young, who brought the Blazers up by two (55-53) to end the period.
The fourth quarter however was a nail biter that sent everyone to the edges of their seats. Castor led the Blazers after one hustle play after another, but the Altas managed to keep the green and white scoreless from the halfway mark of the game until the end. Benilde had the opportunity to tie the game but late turnovers caught up with the Taft squad that led their promising season opener to a loss (69-65).
However, just a few hours after the game, the NCAA Mancom issued a statement on the wrong jersey color worn by the Altas. Perpetual, which was supposed to be wearing the light (yellow) uniform, was forfeited for the game as stated by the rules and regulations of the league. This then resulted to giving the Blazers’ their first win of the season.
Taft ballers Kendrix Belgica had 16 points and 5 rebounds together with Matt Johnson and JJ Domingo, who contributed a total of 19 points, and Castro’s 67% shooting average from the field led the Blazers to a more powerful and promising start this season.
Despite a plot twist to start their season, the Blazers hope to improve their record as they face the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals on Friday, July 14, at the Filoil Flying V Centre, San Juan.
Quarters: (23-13, 39-32, 53-55, 69-65)
Photos by Patricia Oliveros