Rookie Carlo Lastimosa, nephew of the legendary Jojo Lastimosa, scored all his 13 points in the second half as College of St. Benilde hung tough in the clutch to upend gritty Arellano University, 70-64 and claim their maiden win in NCAA Season 86 action last July 5, 2010 at the Arena in San Juan City.

After Arellano big man Gerald Lapuz rattled in five straight points to trim the St. Benilde lead to two, 66-64 with a shade above four minutes in the game, Lastimosa fired back with a jumper to extend his unit’s advantage to four at the 3:53 mark.

Both teams went scoreless in the next few possessions, but it only set the stage for the neophyte from Cagayan de Oro City as the 6’1 shooting guard scored on a tough floater from the top of the key to give coach Richard del Rosario’s charges more cushion, 70-64 with 2:03 remaining in the game clock. Arellano, which defeated fellow probationary member-school Emilio Aguinaldo College in its opening game, could not buy a bucket against CSB’s 1-2-2 zone defense in the succeeding plays as Isiah Ciriacruz and Andrian Celada both muffed a three-point attempt each.

Arellano, however, was given a lease on life with about four ticks in the ballgame when Blazers guard Mark de Guzman was slapped with a technical foul for slamming the ball at Lapuz, who had already fouled him to freeze the clock. Celada, though, botched two hurriedly taken technical freebies, handing St. Benilde an opening game win for the fourth consecutive season.

Del Rosario was visibly relieved after the game. “Guys have a lot of energy. They’re more talented than last year. Very young as well, so there’s a tendency to commit mental mistakes in the endgame. Hopefully, in the first round, the players mature. The sooner they mature, the better for us. Also, it’s gonna be a battle of consistency. That was the problem last year.”

De Guzman, a former Philippine Youth Team cager, paced the Blazers with 14 points and nine assists, while Jan Tan held his own in the slot with a 12-point, 10-rebound outing. St. Benilde led for the most part, erecting leads as large as 10 in the second period in the face of a 1-2-2 zone defense, which is already becoming a staple along Legarda. Lastimosa, a transferee from Ateneo de Manila, proved to be the difference-maker in the second half, especially in the face of that pressure-oriented zone.

“I told Carlo, just pick your shots. It’ll come. I tried to put some plays for him in the second half to get his game and rhythm [going]. That made him more relaxed,” del Rosario added.

It was the fourth straight time that St. Benilde won its opening game with the Blazers hoping to come up with a 2-0 start for the third straight year against the Stags on July 14.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle but we will try to continue the tradition,” said Del Rosario.

Scores:

CSB 70 – De Guzman 14, Lastimosa 13, Tan 12, Nayve 10, dela Paz 7, Sinco 6, Argamino 3, McCoy 2, Ongteco 2, Abolucion 1, Mañalac 0.

Arellano 64 – Lapuz 16, Celada 13, Ciriacruz 12, del Rosario 7, Acidre 6, Anquilo 4, Caperal 4, Zulueta 2, Palma 2, Casiño 0, Virtudazo 0.

Quarter scoring: 20-17, 36-32, 59-55, 70-64.

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