Outscoring their opponents 22-14 in the final 10 minutes, the Perpetual Altas used a strong fourth quarter to notch a 76-66 victory and grab solo third spot in the continuing NCAA Season against the Arellano Chiefs at the San Juan Arena on Thursday afternoon.
A good exchange in both offense and defense was displayed by both squads as their was no clear edge momentum-wise. For the first seven minutes of the match, the lead exchanges piled up with free throws already being shot well by the two teams. The Chiefs, however, unleashed an 8-2 blast late in the first quarter as Perpetual muffed its shots from the perimeter.
In the second quarter, Bright Akhuetie started to muscle his way for Perpetual’s offense but the Chiefs maintained their distance with a balanced output from their second unit. Arellano led by as much as seven during the first half at 31-24 with free throws and transition plays by Jiovani Jalalon. The Altas were also executing well, but poor perimeter shooting in the first half favored the Chiefs, who ended the first two quarters up by four.
Back-and-forth action started to take place in the second half as the game got played on an intensely-fought pace that made it a close match. The Chiefs were still on hold with a slight lead until halfway of the third frame but a big triple by Gab Dagangon tied the game at 45. From that point, Perpetual started to dictate the game as Akhuetie continued his monstrous game down low.
In the fourth, defense was the key for Perpetual’s surge as they were able to force the Chiefs to crucial turnovers while they managed to capitalize on such on their end. Zac Nicholls drained a three-ball to lock the game at 56-all, but was countered by a pivotal 6-0 answer by Perpetual that gained their edge in terms of momentum. Until the last minutes of the game, every basket and mini-rally put up by Arellano would be countered by Perpetual to keep distance. Moreover, pointblank shots by Jalalon underneath the basket were missed while stretch center Dioncee Holts fouled out of the game with two minutes remaining that resulted to the eventual breakaway by the Las Pinas-based squad.
“Kailangan [namin manalo] kasi pag matalo pa kami nasa pang-lima na kami,” Coach Aric del Rosario said about the importance of gaining this win. He also blamed the relax state of his team during practices when the Altas were riding high with a four-game winning streak. “Nung apat na panalo namin parang nakita ko sa ensayo pa-easy-easy lang. Pagkatapos ng Letran, sabi ko sa kanila ‘kala niyo malakas kayo.’ Wake-up call iyon.” Finally, he credited the intense defensive played by Antonio Coronel on Jio Jalalon that limited the skipper to just 14 points on a horrendous 5/13 shooting and limited the league leader in assists to just three assists. In addition, he was forced to nine turnovers in the game.
Bright Akhuetie led all scorers with 31 points on 8/13 shooting. Scott Thompson regained his form in scoring 11 points and grabbing a season-high 16 rebounds.
The Altas improved to a 5-2 slate while the Chiefs drop to 4-3. Arellano’s next assignment will be up against San Beda on the lone game on August 13 at 2pm while Perpetual battles Emilio Aguinaldo for its next match, 4pm on August 11.
UPHSD (76) – Akhuetie 31, Thompson 11, Dagangon 11, Eze 8, Coronel 7, Bantayan 3, Gallardo 2, Sadiwa 2, Cabiltes 1, Oliveria 0, Dizon 0, Ylagan 0, Tamayo 0, Elopre 0
AU (66) – Jalalon 14, Enriquez 12, Nicholls 8, Holts 7, Salado 7, Bangga 6, Cadavis 6, Capara 2, Gumaru 2, Ortega 2, Meca 0, Ongolo-ongolo 0, De Guzman 0, Tano 0
Quarters: 18-23, 36-32, 54-52, 76-66.
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