Justin Arana did not leave anything to chance, powering Arellano University to a 65-62 win over Jose Rizal University to punch their ticket to the NCAA Season 97 Seniors Basketball Tournament play-in, Wednesday at La Salle Green Hills’ St. Benilde Gym in Mandaluyong City.
Arana, who hails from Bicol, hauled down 29 rebounds with 18 points in a no-relief effort to give the Chiefs a 4-5 record for fifth place.
And the reigning Defensive Player of the Year was clutch as well.
With Arellano clinging to a 63-62 lead with 37.8 seconds left, Arana canned two pressure-packed free throws to extend the lead to three.
On the other end, Jason Celis missed a potential game-tying three that sealed the win for the Chiefs.
Axel Doromal and Gelo Sablan supported Arana with the former finishing with 13 points while the latter adding 11.
Arellano will await the winner of the Perpetual Help-EAC game on Friday in a virtual battle for the last play-in seat.
EJ Agbong paced JRU, who ended its campaign with a 1-8 slate, with 16 points. Marwin Dionisio added 10.
Arellano 65 –– Arana 18, Doromal 13, Sablan 11, Sta. Ana 7, Oliva 6, Concepcion 3, Valencia 2, Caballero 2, Carandang 2, Cruz 1, Steinl 0.
JRU 62 — Agbong 16, Dionisio 11, Macatangay 9, Delos Santos 8, Arenal 7, Celis 7, Guiab 4, Jungco 0, Bongay 0, Aguado 0, Estrella 0, Aguilar 0, C. Gonzales 0, dela Rama 0.
Quarterscores: 20-17, 34-28, 53-46, 65-62.