For the second time in this young season, Levi dela Cruz proved to be the hero the Chiefs needed.
Down with 14 ticks left, the pint-sized guard did it on both ends to lift the Arellano University Chiefs past the see-sawing San Sebastian College-Recoletos Golden Stags in overtime, 82-81, Friday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“He has a big heart,” Chiefs head coach Jerry Codinera said about the 5-foot-7 guard. “Pinagalitan ko before that shot. It was a desperate shot. ‘Yun na ‘yun. He doesn’t back down on an opportunity. He’s a scorer, he knows he can do it.”
The opportunity to make amends for his error happened with just 14.2 ticks left.
Off a timeout with 14.2 ticks left and facing a two-point deficit, Dela Cruz took matters into his own hands, splitting past Arjan dela Cruz and knocking down the go-ahead triple. Still, there were 4.5 seconds remaining. But Levi made sure to not give the Golden Stags a chance, as he intercepted a San Sebastian pass to seal the win.
Dela Cruz finished the game with 10 points, nine assists, and four steals.
The Chiefs had to work hard to take their second win in three games.
Behind Michael Calisaan, San Sebastian had a strong third frame that saw them score 28 points while limiting Arellano to just 12 points. The Golden Stags would lead by as much as 13 points in the final frame.
“We’re so thankful na umabot kami sa overtime. Medyo mahirap nung bandang huli kasi medyo mga bago yung mga nagpapahabol, [Maui] Sera] Josef, [Ian] Alban, and [Ronan] Santos,” beamed the PBA legend.
Rookie Sherwin Concepcion was the sparkplug the Chiefs needed in the final quarter of the contest. A triple by the former Brave sparked an 8-0 run to knot that game at 65-all. Calisaan and Arjan dela Cruz gave the Golden Stags a four-point cushion with 1:28 left, but Dela Cruz scored four straight points that was capped by a breakaway layup with 11.9 ticks to force overtime.
Alban paced the Chiefs with 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and an 8-for-10 clip from the foul stripe. Rence Alcoriza chipped in 15 markers.
Calisaan’s huge 28-point, 17-rebound double-double went for naught as well, as the Stags fell to a 2-3 slate. JM Calma had a double-double as well with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Allyn Bulanadi did not play in the game, as he is nursing a knee injury.
Arellano look to ride the momentum from this game when they face the Mapua Cardinals on Tuesday, July 31. San Sebastian, on the other hand, hope to bounce back when they take on the EAC Generals on Friday, August 3. Both games will take place at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
AU 82 – Alban 18, Alcoriza 15, Dela Cruz 10, Sera Josef 8, Villoria 8, Concepcion 7, Canete 6, Santos 5, Dela Torre 3, Sacramento 2, Bayla 0, Ongolo Ongolo 0, Codinera 0, Segura 0, Abdurasad 0
SSC-R 81 – Calisaan 28, Calma 15, Capobres 12, Dela Cruz 10, Are 8, Ilagan 4, Valdez 2, Sumoda 2, Villapando 0, Baytan 0, Desoyo 0, Isidro 0
Quarterscores: 17-12, 31-25, 43-53, 72-72, 82-81.