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Haruna, Blazers survive monster game of Eze, Altas


College of St. Benilde survived a career scoring effort by Nigerian Prince Eze as it eked out a 91-87 victory to remain at third spot in the 94th NCAA basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

Yankie Haruna paced the Blazers with 19 points including the go-ahead basket with 55 seconds to go that sealed them their seventh victory against three defeats, which was good to keep them the No. 3 spot behind the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates (10-0) and the San Beda Lions (9-1).

Justin Gutang hit a crucial triple while Unique Naboa drained four key foul shots in the stretch to help CSB fend off Perpetual Help’s desperate fightback.

The 6-9 Eze dropped a career-best 36 points including a three-point play off a Haruna foul that gave the Altas an 83-82 lead with 1.14 minutes remaining.

But it turned out the Las Pinas-based school’s last taste of the lead as Haruna, Gutang and Naboa took charge to hold on to the win.

The Altas heavily missed starting guard Edgar Charcos, who missed his third straight game due to a knee injury.

The absence of Charcos, who averaged 17 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.9 steals a game before he hurt his knee, also coincided with Perpetual Help’s three-game losing skein that sent sprawling to a fifth defeat against the same number of wins.

CSB came into the game already receiving bad news after spitfire guard JJ Domingo suffered a season-ending ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury in a tune-up game last week.

Good thing several guards stepped up like Naboa, who chipped in 14 points, Rob Nayve, who added seven, and Prince Carlos, who hit a big three-pointer late in the game.

The boxscores:

CSB 91- Haruna 19, Pasturan 17, Naboa 14, Gutang 13, Nayve 7, Young 7, Leutcheu 5, Belgica 4, Carlos 3, Velasco 2, Pagulayan 0

UPHSD 87- Eze 36, Razon 18, Peralta 8, Aurin 7, Cuevas 7, Coronel 6, Tamayo 3, Mangalino 2, Pasia 0

Quarterscores: 17-20; 49-43; 68-62; 91-87