MANILA, September 2, 2003 (STAR) By Joey Villar - Out of the Final Four race, St. Benilde came through with a big game to deny Mapua’s bid for an outright entry into the next round as the Blazers blazed home with a surprise 80-72 victory yesterday in the 79th NCAA basketball tournament at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Rookie Juan Luis Eliseo Abad III and Al Magpayo took over for St. Benilde in the third quarter, scoring seven points apiece to power the Blazers to a huge 18-point lead which they preserved to seal what was only their fifth win in 12 games.

"We want to win not for anybody else but for ourselves," said St. Benilde coach Tonichi Yturri. "We want to prove to ourselves and to the school that we can still play this good even though we’re already out of the running."

In the other game, Philippine Christian University unleashed a 7-0 blitz in the final two minutes as it dragged Perpetual Help out of the Final Four race with a 62-61 triumph.

Joseph Roque scored on a driving lay-up with 23 seconds left in the game to seal the Dolphins’ fourth win against nine defeats.

It was the Altas’ eight setback in 13 outings.

Despite taking its sixth loss against seven victories, Mapua still has a chance to join defending champion San Sebastian (9-4), Letran (8-5) and Jose Rizal (8-5) in the semifinals with a win over Philippine Christian University (3-9) on Friday.

Mapua appeared to have seized momentum after a basket each by Jofferson Gonzales and Ryan Malig that turned a 32-35 deficit at the break to a 36-35 lead.

But the Cards failed to neutralize the diminutive Abad, who starred in a decisive 29-10 run that saw the Blazers erect a 64-46 advantage at the start of the final quarter.

Mapua managed to trim that deficit down to a single-digit, 70-76, with 1.04 minutes remaining in the contest but it proved to be the closest that the Cardinals could get as the Blazers simply defused the rally on Magpayo and Abad’s charities.

Hong Kong dethrones RP-Lhuillier The Philippine Star 09/02/2003

HONG KONG — No Super Kung Sheung Heyuan Cup for the Philippines-Cebuana Lhuillier this time. Only valuable lessons that the team need before the ABC tournament in China next month and the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam in December.

Against host Hong Kong, the Philippines tried its best — but failed — to retain the title, losing 68-80 in their winner-take-all title showdown before a big crowd at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium here Sunday.

Unable to keep pace with their taller and quicker opponents, the Filipinos fell behind by as many as 24 points, 40-64, halfway through the third period and spent the rest of the way struggling to find a decent shot against the Hongkongites’ impregnable defense.

"Talo talaga. The boys tried their best, but the lead was too big to overcome in the end," said RP-Cebuana Lhuillier head coach Aric del Rosario.

"But this is a good experience for the team especially for the ABC and SEA Games," added Del Rosario.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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