MANILA, Philippines–College of St. Benilde had to dig deep to defeat rival Jose Rizal University in a heated overtime encounter, 93-85, in the NCAA Season 99 men’s basketball tournament at San Juan Arena on Friday.
Last season, the two teams were the brunt of controversy after John Amores’ rampage in their match-up in November 2022. A year later, the tensions between the Blazers’ and the Heavy Bombers’ bench still looked evident.
“Whenever we play JRU, it’s always a physical game, they’re really a good, solid team and (Agem) Miranda was great. Obviously, it got chippy at the end, but it’s basketball, I don’t know what they’re making a big fuss about. They didn’t want to shake our hands after the game. [It’s] not like we did anything to them, we’re just competing,” said coach Charles Tiu.
“Even if we’re frustrated or upset, we always try our best to respect our opponents. Still, they competed. I could say we got lucky at the end. We had our chances, it was a hard game for us so it’s good to get the win.”
Forty minutes of action wasn’t enough to determine a winner between the Blazers and the Heavy Bombers, who now hold identical 1-1 records in the young season.
Benilde looked to keep a two-point lead until the end of regulation but Agem Miranda had other plans, sinking a heavily contested jumper from mid-range to tie the game at 75-all with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter.
And… more altercation. These two teams have quite the history with one another dating back to #NCAASeason98.
— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) September 29, 2023
After a minute and 20 seconds of turnovers and shooting droughts, the game went into overtime where the Blazers started hot with an 8-4 spurt to take an 83-79 advantage with 2:13 left.
However, it was at that point where CSB’s Mark Sangco and JRU’s Vince Sarmiento would lock horns and get in a little scuffle which didn’t help coach Louie Gonzales’ cause in the long run.
The Blazers cruised to a huge 89-81 lead after a personal 5-0 run by Miggy Corteza, who finished with 21 points.
‘YOU’RE CHEATING US’
When it looked like the game was ending, JRU and CSB got into it again, this time between Corteza and Jonathan Medina.
As the buzzer sounded to signal the Blazers’ hard-fought victory, tension still filled the San Juan Arena hardwood as players from the JRU bench refused to shake Tiu’s hands.
“I was trying to shake hands with some of their players and some of them told me, ‘you’re cheating us,’ so I said we’re just competing. How can you tell that we’re cheating you when we don’t have any involvement? It just takes away from the hard work of the players.”
Will Gozum, who came back to the Blazers’ lineup after a one-game suspension from Game of the Season 98 Finals, helped the squad with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Miranda scored the game-high 31 points but to no avail for JRU.