The past two games haven’t been friendly for the Arellano University Chiefs.
In both of their losses against the Mapua Institute of Technology and the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, the Chiefs would usually play their game in their favored blistering pace but come the fourth quarter, the lead they’ve worked hard to establish simply went down the drain.
As of press time, the Chiefs are managing to score 13 fourth quarter points in their last two games, but the alarming trend for the team is that they have given up 25.5 fourth quarter points per game in their last two losses.
“The past two games we lost in the fourth quarter, we ran out of steam. We played [the game] according to the game plan from the first to third quarter but eventually we ran out of steam in the fourth quarter,” Arellano assistant coach Barry Tobias told in an exclusive interview with Tiebreaker Times. “We missed a lot of closing shots for this [Letran] game and our game against Mapua, we were so lazy sprinting back on defense. So that’s it, Coach Jerry [Codinera] said they wanted it more and the opposing teams played with more heart.”
Tobias also noted that Arellano controlled the most part of their game against Letran. They led most of the way after methodically breaking Letran’s terror pressure defense and nailing timely three-pointers. Everyone was also in high spirits after the Chiefs managed to have a 69-63 after three quarters but as the fourth quarter arrived, Tobias observed that the team’s sense of urgency to win a crucial game suddenly disappeared. He also noted that they were outrebounded by the opposing the team, 56-40, despite having the obvious size advantage.
“I think they [Letran] were stronger in the first round because they were confident that time because of their streak of wins but during the second round they were very beatable. For the first three quarters, they were like a normal team. We didn’t play like they were a Final Four team during this game. They lacked size and we were bigger than them but we were outrebounded,” he pointed out. “We [have] collapsed big time in the fourth quarter since the Mapua game. We only scored 12 points in the fourth quarter. We were up by 6 by the end of the third and I think we felt good already, but things didn’t go our way in the fourth.”
In addition, given that they could go toe to toe with Letran, it was Arellano’s game to lose. They let the likes of Jomar Sollano and Rey Nambatac grab 22 rebounds combined and Kevin Racal also owned the boards by grabbing 9 boards on his own. On the other hand, no Arellano player managed to achieve double figures in rebounding as Dioncee Holts, Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado were the leading rebounders for the team with them grabbing 7 rebounds apiece.
On the bright side, Arellano moved the ball better as they had 21 assists compared to Letran’s 11. They also were more efficient as they only coughed up the ball 13 times compared to the opposition’s 16.
“We were complete and we were not injured. We had a complete lineup. We had the advantage man for man against Letran. We could big, we could go small, we could go fast and we could go slow against them but they just wanted it more during that fourth quarter run. They didn’t panic and they tried to eat our lead slowly and surely. Letran didn’t panic. We were playing not to lose and they played to win.”
With this alarming trend of burning out in the fourth quarter in the latter stages of the NCAA Season, Tobias expects that the team can still turn things around in their bid of nailing a Final Four slot by being more focused and using those losses as a wakeup call. However, a tougher opponent awaits them as they are set to battle it out against the San Beda Red Lions in their next game.
“Nothing is wrong with the team. They just have no sense of urgency and maybe the honeymoon period of coming off a Finals stint last year, we think we could turn on the switch [anytime] just like that. But, we have to be scrappy and we have to fight for everything during this season,” he ended.
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