Needing to win their remaining games, the Arellano University Chiefs gutted it out against the San Sebastian Golden Stags, taking an 85-79 victory, Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
The win lifted Arellano to a tie with San Sebastian at fifth in the standings with identical 7-9. Moreover, this is the Chiefs’ second straight win while handing the Golden Stags its third straight loss.
Kent Salado paced the Chiefs in the first three quarters with 22 points on an excellent 8-for-13 shooting clip to go along with four rebounds, six assists, and two steals.
However, with 8:22 left in the contest and Arellano up 63-57, disaster struck the Chiefs, as RK Ilagan fell on Salado’s right leg forcing the Arellano ace out of the game.
“Nung three quarters it was laid down by Kent, hindi lang naman siya, pero we already had a good start,” said Arellano head coach Jerry Codinera. “It’s up to the others na lang and it’s high time for them to know how to close it without Kent.”
With Salado out, the Golden Stags went on a run behind sniper RK Ilagan. The gunslinger scored five straight points with 6:35 left to cut the lead to just three, 62-65.
But the Chiefs were able to answer right back. A triple by Zach Nicholls sparked 15-8 rally, with Richard Abanes, Michael Canete, and Levi dela Cruz contributing to the cause, helping Arellano gain an 83-70 lead with 49 ticks left.
“Minor adjustments lang on our end. Nung una I feel na our team doesn’t really believe in team defense, akala nila pick-and-roll defense is just the work of two guys lang. Pero in the end nagtulong-tulong kami,” shared Codinera, who is known as the Defensive Minister back in his heydays.
Canete powered the Chiefs with 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting, while Dela Cruz chipped in 10 points off the bench. Though he finished with just four points, Lervin Flores did the dirty work for the Chiefs with six rebounds and four blocks.
Allyn Bulanadi and Ilagan finished with 14 markers each, while JM Calma added 12 points and 13 rebounds. Michael Calisaan struggled in the game, finishing with just seven points and eight rebounds.
Arellano play their penultimate game of the round on Thursday, October 12, against the Perpetual Altas at 2:00pm. San Sebastian, on the other hand, take on the Mapua Cardinals on Friday, October 13, at 12:00nn.
AU 85 – Salado 22, Cañete 15, Dela Cruz 10, Nicholls 9, Viloria 8, Abanes 6, Flores 4, Meca 4, Alcoriza 3, Concepcion 2, Enriquez 2, Taywan 0.
SSC-R 79 – Bulanadi 14, Ilagan 14, Calma 12, Gayosa 9, Navarro 9, Calisaan 7, Capobres 7, Costelo 3, David 2, Mercado 2, Baetiong 0, Quipse 0, Valdez 0.
Quarterscores: 20-19, 38-33, 60-52, 85-79.