MANILA, Philippines—St. Benilde and La Salle, who were among the teams that took part in the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas test matches, praised the layout of the Mall of Asia Arena, one of the main venues for hosting the Fiba World Cup 2023 in the country.
St. Benilde College coach Charles Tiu explained why the current World Cup test is a “success”, citing players’ comfort with their entrances to the venue.
“I like it. First of all, I like what they did with the entry of the players, it goes straight to the locker room and it’s a great idea. The way they put everything in place is pretty good, I like the drones, the videos, it looks pretty solid, they’re starting to get ready,” Tiu said.
WATCH: Charles Tiu after St. Benilde College’s victory over La Salle at the SBP Invitational Games for the Fiba World Cup.
— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) June 28, 2023
The Blazers defeated La Salle in Game 1 of the SBP Invitational Games at MOA Arena, a one-day event designed to simulate Fiba World Cup conditions.
Will Gozum, who played his first official game since suffering a left hand injury a few months ago, also praised the simulation games en route to basketball’s biggest event of the year.
“It’s beautiful. They’ve planned this all out really well and I hope whatever they do next they have a good result for the World Cup,” the NCAA’s ’98 season MVP said.
Migs Oczon made the most of the exhibition game scoring the best with 29 points built on a 55.6% effective field goal clip.
“I just went out and played. I didn’t even think about scoring that much, but I gained confidence and focused on my mechanics shooting the ball while trying to win the game,” Oczon said.
“I know Coach Charles trusts me to take those shots, he knows I take them and maybe I’ve earned his trust (already).”
The Green Archers moved closer to six in the fourth quarter, 67-61, before the Blazers went into a 10-2 tiebreak capped by back-to-back triples from Oczon.
Miggy Corteza and Zenrick Jarque netted 17 points each for Benilde in the win.
La Salle, who played without his core after winning the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup, was Elaijah Gollena with 19 scorers. Vhoris Marasigan also scored 16 in a losing effort.
Green Archer Ben Philips kept, meanwhile, satisfied he was the games timeout. In the simulation, the La Salle-Benilde match started at 4:45 p.m. and ended well before 6:30 p.m. The second game between Mapua Cardinals and the National University Bulldogs will take place at 8:45 am.
“The setup here is nice. Lots of time to warm up, all the extra stuff was fantastic, the halftime shows, it really was like an NBA game. It was really nice to be a part of it,” said Philips.
“When more fans come it will be a bit livelier because it’s a bit quiet here but I saw some of the pre-game, they were throwing towels and t-shirts, the music was lively and the mascot was cool,” added the 32nd Southeast Asian Games medalist.
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