Without top playmaker Kent Salado this NCAA Season 94 Seniors Basketball Tournament, Arellano Chiefs coach Jerry Codinera only had meager expectations for his boys as all he wanted was to see some semblance of fight.
As it turned out, the Chiefs have more than enough in their arsenal for that.
And a vital cog in that uprising is first-year player Maui Sera Josef, who was the catalyst in Arellano’s 76-72 shocker over Perpetual to end the first round.
The Las Vegas-raised forward anchored the Chiefs’ fightback from 17 points down on his way to racking 14 points, three rebounds, a steal, and a block in the victory, including the go-ahead bucket with 1:13 to spare.
More importantly, Sera Josef’s defense frustrated Altas big man Prince Eze in the endgame, sending the latter’s 22-point, 25-rebound performance down the drain.
“I just needed to be sure to do a good job in containing him. It was a good match-up,” he said.
That was enough for Sera Josef to be hailed as the Chooks-to-Go NCAA Press Corps Player of the Week, the last in the first round.
He beat Eze and San Beda’s Calvin Oftana for the weekly citation handed out by print and online sportswriters covering the beat.
More than the individual accolade, what mattered to Sera Josef was helping Arellano finish the first round on a good note, keeping them in the thick of things for the Final Four.
“I was hoping na we could get more than three wins, pero okay na rin because this will make us motivated for the second round,” said Codinera.