Home Sports Blazers get long-awaited title shot—and the Finals opponent they wished for

Blazers get long-awaited title shot—and the Finals opponent they wished for

by Atlanta Business Journal

College of St. Benilde Blazers celebrate after knocking off the San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA Season 98 Final Four to reach the finals for the first time in two decades. NCAA PHOTO

Maybe it was because his team finally ended a two-decade wait for a title shot.

Charles Tiu broke from tradition on Tuesday and reminded everyone that he had always wanted his St. Benilde squad to face Letran for the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball crown.

“I said it before, I hope I see Letran in the Finals because that means we made it to the Finals,” Tiu said after punching the first Finals ticket with a thrilling 62-61 victory over San Beda in the Final Four.

Hours later, Tiu got what he wished for. And Letran coach Bonnie Tan didn’t need to remind him to be careful.

“He has the right to say that,” Tan said after he was told of Tiu’s statement.

The defending champion Knights booked the second championship ticket after dismissing Lyceum, 67-58, in their half of the semifinal bracket.

“At least we’re here [in the finals] now. We’re excited to face them in the Finals because this is their first time after a long absence,” Tan said.

Letran swept the top-seeded St. Benilde in the elimination round, but Tan feels the Knights will also have an advantage elsewhere when the two teams begin their best-of-three title clash on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“One of our advantages is the experience in the Finals and how to close out games,” Tan said. “[B]ut they’re still the No.1 team so hopefully our veterans are challenged.”

The Blazers will make their first Finals appearance since 2002.

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