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Blazers near Final Four; Pirates gain semis bonus

MANILA, Philippines — All it took St. Benilde gunner Miguel Oczon was one made basket to get something going.

And Oczon went unstoppable.

Catching fire right in the nick of time, Oczon whipped up a fourth-quarter storm and propelled the Blazers to a 72-54 victory over the Letran Knights yesterday and closer to the NCAA Season 99 Final Four at the Filoil EcoOil Arena.

Held scoreless in the first half and all but the last 30 seconds of the third quarter, Oczon found his groove as he drained a triple late in the period and then followed it up with three more in the final canto, hammering the nail on Letran’s coffin.

Thanks to Oczon’s late explosion, the Blazers claimed their 11th win against six defeats and at least a playoff for the last semifinal slot.

It will advance outright to the Final Four and join early entrants Mapua (14-3) and Lyceum of the Philippines U (13-4) if it wins its last elims assignment versus Emilio Aguinaldo College.

There, the Blazers will have a chance to advance to the finals and gain another crack at a second NCAA championship after being denied last year by then three-peat champions Knights.

It was payback time last night for St. Benilde, soothing somehow its loss to Letran last year.

Earlier, LPU smashed Arellano U, 98-86, to claim its 13th win in 17 games and the other twice-to-beat edge in the Final Four.

The Knights and the Chiefs fell to 2-15.