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Zach Nicholls’ ‘prayer shot’ lifts Arellano past JRU in 2OT



During their first round encounter, 40 minutes had not been enough for the Chiefs and the Heavy Bombers. This time around, Arellano University and Jose Rizal University figured in a 50-minute affair with the Chiefs continuing to serve as the bane of the Heavy Bombers, taking a 115-109 double overtime win, Thursday evening at the Filoil Flying Centre.

The win lifted Arellano’s card to 4-6, just a game behind fourth-running Letran. JRU, on the other hand, dropped to 6-4, just a game ahead of Letran as well.

And it was Filipino-Canadian shooter Zach Nicholls who saved the day for Arellano.

“Sakit sa ulo. It was a game of spurts. They made a run, we made a run. Siguro I guess, it’s the stops that made it, we made the stops,” recalled an exhasperated Arellano head coach Jerry Codinera. “Other than sa prayer shot ni Zach, talagang down na kami talaga, natira niya from how many feet out.”

Down 100-97 with 2.0 ticks remaining in overtime, Kent Salado threw a desperate overhead pass to a well-guarded Nicholls. With MJ dela Virgen hounding him, the fifth-year Chief knocked down a Hail Mary shot to send the game into another extra five minutes. Prior to that shot, Nicholls had been 1-for-15 from downtown.

The Heavy Bombers entered the second overtime without Abdulwahab Abdulrazak and Abdoul Poutouochi, as both had fouled out of the game. Making things worse for them, Ervin Grospe, who tallied 10 points and seven rebounds, was also assessed his fifth personal foul with 4:17 still on the clock.

With JRU gassing out, the Chiefs made it rain in the final five minutes of the game, going on a 10-0 run to start the period that was punctuated by back-to-back triples by Archie Concepcion and Kraniel Villoria.

To rub salt into JRU’s wounds, Teytey Teodoro, who is having a career game with 30 points, fouled out with 2:24 left.

“We were able to regroup. Sa bench namin, we were able to get some energy sa bench namin,” the Defensive Minister said about the energy his team still had in the second overtime.

Rence Alcoriza led the Chiefs with 30 points, while Kent Salado added 17 points and seven assists. Lervin Flores finished with a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

“We’re trying to adjust with an All-Filipino line-up, smaller line-up,” disclosed Codinera, as the Chiefs tirelessly slashed through the lanes, resulting in a season-high 53 free throw attempts.

On the other hand, Jed Mendoza complemented Teodoro with 24 markers.

Arellano will next face the hapless Mapua Cardinals on Tuesday, September 12, at 2:00pm. JRU, on the other hand, will take on fellow contenders Letran Knights on Thursday, September 14, at 2:00pm.

The Scores:

AU 115 – Alcoriza 23, Salado 17, Flores 17, Taywan 15, Canete 12, Enriquez 9, Concepcion 9, Nicholls 5, Villoria 5, Abanes 3, Dela Cruz 0, Meca 0, Filart 0

JRU 109 – Teodoro 30, Mendoza 24, Bordon 13, Grospe 10, Abdul Razak 10, Sawat 9, Lasquety 4, Poutouochi 4, Dela Virgen 3, David 2, Mate 0

Quarterscores: 18-20, 43-39, 68-64, 89-89, 100-100, 115-109.