After dropping three close games, the Arellano University Chiefs needed something to lift their spirits. And it finally came on Monday afternoon, as last season’s runners-up in the NCAA stormed back against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals to take a 95-92 win at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The win gave the Chiefs’ quarterfinals alive as they are now sporting a 1-3 record. EAC fell to a 2-4 slate with two games to go.
“We had two close games. Talagang we are still in the process of adjusting on where to put [Kent] Salado. Hinahanap ko pa kung point siya or shooting guard. Hindi pa namin alam kung saan siya ilalagay dahil sa naiwan ni [Jiovani] Jalalon,” said Arellano head coach Jerry Condinera.
Salado channeled his inner Jiovani Jalalon in this game as he flirted with a triple-double with 30 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. Lervin Flores picked up a double-double as well with 18 points and 15 rebounds to go along with five swats.
“Maganda naman ang nilalaro ni Lervin. Kailangan lang mag-step up yung papalit sa kanya from the bench,” the Defensive Minister admitted.
And the Chiefs had needed all the production they can get from their two stalwarts, as they were behind 74-66 heading into the final frame.
Flores sparked a 5-0 Arellano run to start the quarter, but the Generals were able to regain their footing, gaining an 85-79 lead after an and-one play by Juju Bautista with 4:34 left.
The Generals, who were playing without Hamadou Laminou, committed numerous errors and were out-rebounded on both ends. It led to an 8-0 blitz, capped by four straight points from Salado for an 89-85 lead with 2:30 remaining. Baskets by Salado and Flores late in the game sealed the win for the Chiefs.
“Naka-recover naman nung huli. Si [Francis] Munsayac, underrated superstar yan, then there’s [Sidney] Onwubere. They are deeper now,” Condinera remarked about the Generals.
Zach Nicholls and Mike Canete chipped in 13 points and six rebounds each for Arellano.
Munsayac paced EAC with 27 points and seven assists. Onwubere, who played under coach Condinera during the off-season with the Racal Tile Masters, had 25 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Arellano will next face San Sebastian on Wednesday, May 31, at 11:15am. EAC plays their penultimate game of the elimination round on Wednesday, June 7. against the the Far Eastern University Tamaraws at 3:15pm.
AU (95) – Salado 30, Flores 18, Nicholls 13, Canete 13, Villoria 10, Concepcion 5, Abanes 2, Enriquez 2, Taywan 2, Rivero 0, Mecca 0, Padilla 0.
EAC (92) – Munsayac 27, Onwubere 25, Garcia 14, Bautista 9, Diego 9, I. Mendoza 3, Bugarin 3, Pascua 2, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0, Tampoc 0, N. Mendoza 0, Guzman 0, Gonzales 0.
Quarterscores: 27-21, 46-47, 66-74, 95-92.