JRU 73, CSB 63: down, but not out

Don’t let the final score fool you. This was a close encounter from start to finish.

I have never seen the CSB Blazers so focused and pumped up as they were late Friday afternoon. Wearing their gamefaces, they took the court blazing as they opened up with a 5 point lead over the favored JRU Heavy Bombers. JRU, however, pulled close with the help of their stalwarts JM Wilson and pro-bound JR Sena. The Bombers, still struck by the tragic loss of their former captain Jay Nocom, finally took over as they were ahead by 11 at the half.

The Blazers, however, would not fold. Dedicating the game to their lukemia-stricken teammate Iggy Villanueva, CSB made crucial stops on defense, and was able to stay close all throughout the second half. Chuck Dalanon, retuning from a one-game suspension, fired buckets that closed the gap to just two, 55-53, early in the final quarter. CSB wasn’t able to capitalize, though, as the Bombers pulled away on free throws and big baskets by Wilson and Jhe Agas.

As the final buzzer sounded, the Blazers wore frustrated looks, having another big game slip away from their hands. Coach Richard del Rosario, however, told the guys how proud he was at the progress that the team has made in the first round. Coming from ‘ugly wins’ earlier in the season against Mapua and UPHSD, the Blazers has come a long way. Coach addressed the fact that this change of character will definitely help the team in the second round. “This is the way I want to lose: fighting!”, the first-year coach told the players.

Furthermore, coach urged the boys to work harder and practice and believe in themselves during games. Going against the top 4 teams in the next round, CSB will definitely not be overlooked. The players themselves have to also believe thet they can beat these teams. “Don’t let this game let you down”, coach Richard said. And I agree. The guys will only get better if they build on ths performance.

A well-played game. As what I was saying in my past articles, the team is getting better as the season progresses. Coach Richard was happy with the team yesterday despite the loss because, finally, the players are playing up to their potential. The guys were aggressive, and was playing with heart. And to think that we were supposed to get blown out by JRU.

Great crowd attendance. Coach told the guys that they have to recognize the Benildean faithful’s newfound appreciation for the team. If they would perform at their best every game, then expect the CSB audience to increase. If that happens, expect the cheers to be louder and the fire setting ablaze for the Blazers.

As of this writing, the team is currently at their teambuilding activity. Let’s hope that this weekend will be a big help for our Blazers to bond and to fix whatever’s there to fix between them. Let’s also hope that the much-improved cohesiveness will rub on to the next round.

JRU 73 – Wilson 21, Sena 17, Agas 13, Hayes 10, Cagoco 5, Njei 4, Lopez 2, Bulangis 1, Matute 0, Apinan 0, Montemayor 0, Kabigting 0.

St. Benilde 63 – Dalanon 13, Morial 13, de Guzman 8, Montecastro 8, Tan 4, Mañalac 4, Johnston 4, Umlas 3, Wong 2, Manlapaz 2, Urra 2, Abolucion 0.

Quarter scores: 16-17, 38-27, 55-50, 73-63.

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