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Blazers face major test

Games today:
(FilOil EcoOil Centre)
12 p.m. — Saint Benilde vs Letran
3 p.m. — Perpetual vs Mapua

College of Saint Benilde puts its hot streak on the line when it battles reigning champion Letran College in Season 98 National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament today at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

Game time is at 12 p.m. with the unbeaten Blazers facing a major test against the best team in the league in the past two seasons.

Meanwhile, last season’s bridesmaid, Mapua University, and University of Perpetual Help System Dalta aim to break their respective losing streaks when they collide in the second game at 3 p.m.

The Cardinals and the Altas are tied at the bottom of the standings at 1-2 while the Knights are just half-game ahead with 1-1 following a shocking 69-72 loss to idle Arellano University last Sunday.

Against the Chiefs, Louie Sangalang delivered 19 points and 16 rebounds while King Caralipio submitted 16 points and 13 rebounds but main gunners like Brent Paraiso, Fran Yu and Kurt Reyson were quiet as they were held to a single-digit scoring output.

Reyson, in fact, could have sent the game into overtime, but his three-point attempt was unsuccessful, prompting the Knights to break their long winning streak and suffer their first loss to the Chiefs since 2016.

Still, the sorry setback is already a thing of the past and Letran coach Bonnie Tan is ready to set his sights on their upcoming game against the sizzling hot Saint Benilde.

“We made the players realize that we can be beaten in any game and that we have to take it seriously. We have to be consistent with our game plan,” said Tan, whose wards last lost to Saint Benilde on 23 October 2018.

“We have to double our efforts on defense to stop their momentum.”

But winning over a well-coached, very disciplined Saint Benilde side is easier said than done.

Blazers coach Charles Tiu stressed that they have to overcome the Knights and their rugged, tough defense if they want to stretch their league-best three-game winning streak while handing their foes their second consecutive setback.

“I hope we can give them a losing streak but they’re tough and they’re the defending champions for a reason so it’s going to be a hard game,” said Tiu, who is tipped to bank on the high-powered trio of Will Gozum, Miguel Oczon and Robi Nayve.

Gozum posted a double-double performance of 16 points and 10 rebounds while Oczon and Nayve chipped in 15 and 12 points, respectively, during their 81-64 win over the Altas.

“Hopefully, it should be a good test for our team to see where we really stand.”

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