In a tightly-contested game, the Arellano University Chiefs were the more composed team down the stretch as they were able to stave off the University Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas 83-78 to win their season opener Sunday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Early season MVP candidate Jio Jalalon led all scorers with 25 points, while grabbing nine boards, dishing out three dimes, and stealing the ball twice in another all-around effort. Sidekick and fellow Cagayan de Oro-native Kent Salado added 14 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
“Mahirap, ang hirap ng first win, pinakamahirap, buti nakuha na namin,” said Arellano University head coach Jerry Codinera about winning their season opener. “Medyo tight lahat tapos puro offensive-minded ang players.”
After a close first half, the Altas were able to gain the biggest lead of the game, 56-46, in a 10-1 blast to open the third frame. Needing to settle his team, Jalalon took charge by scoring on four straight points to stop his team’s drought. However, both teams were plagued by foul trouble and, strangely enough, the scorers’ table struggled as well. On multiple occasions in the second half, the game had to be halted as the scoreboard shut down, hampering the pace of the game.
“It started with defense. There are games kasi na kahit bad defense kami, because of scoring, nawawala yung mga mistakes sa depensa,” Codinera shared. “Pero this time talaga, you have to do it technically, you really have to be specific about the problem.”
Both teams were neck and neck up until the late stages of the final frame. With the game tied at 73-all with 4:34 remaining, rookie Lervin Flores was able to score on a put-back, while Salado broke away for a wide-open layup to give the Chiefs a four-point edge. Gab Dagangon quickly responded with a triple but that would be the second to the last field goal scored by the Altas.
Baskets by Salado and Zach Nicholls gave the Chiefs enough of a cushion, while lapses and blunders by Prince Eze, who had 12 points and 15 rebounds in the game, halted any Perpetual comeback.
“They played well,” said the Defensive Minister about the Bright Akhuetie-less Altas. “Nung wala si Bright, parang inspired sila. Siyempre they have to double their effort so mas maganda ang ikot nila ng bola and unpredictable kung sino ang i-score sa kanila.”
Dagangon led Perpetual with 17 points and grabbed 15 boards as well. Gerald Dizon added 12 markers, all coming from downtown. Big man Bright Akhuetie missed the game due to a knee sprain.
The Arellano Chiefs (1-0) will have the San Sebastian Stags next on their slate on Friday, July 1 at 12:00nn. The Perpetual Altas (0-1) will also play later in the day, facing the JRU Heavy Bombers (0-1) at 4:00pm.
AU (83) – Jalalon 25, Salado 14, Holts 9, Flores 8, Nicholls 6, Gumaru 6, Canete 6, Meca 2, Cadavis 2, Alcoriza 2, Gupilan 2, Enriquez 1, Aguilar 0, Villoria 0.
UPHSD (78) – Dagangon 17, Eze 12, Dizon 12, Pido 8, Singontiko 8, Hao 6, Cabiltes 6, Sadiwa 5, Gallardo 4, Coronel 0.
Quarterscores: 25-24, 45-46, 64-64, 83-78.