ARELLANO continued its rise as it walloped Mapua, 81-64, on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan to secure at least a playoff for a semifinal spot in the NCAA Season 93.
The win was the Chiefs' fourth straight, ending the elimination round with a 9-9 slate, an impressive feat as they finished their string of must win games without star guard Kent Salado.
The Chiefs would gain automatic entry to the semifinals if Letran and San Sebastian lose their final assignments in the tournament.
The Knights are playing the St. Benilde Blazers at posting time while the Stags take on the Perpetual Altas on Thursday.
Levi de la Cruz and Lervin Flores spearheaded the attack for the Chiefs as they pounced on the Cardinals early to open an 11 point spread at the half.
The Chiefs led by as many as 21 in the second half and cruised to victory.
"Medyo struggling kami kasi siyempre, nagstruggle kami sa chemistry dahil wala si Kent," said Jerry Codinera.
"Ang upside is others now have a chance to work within the system without Kent. Still, yung teamwork parin and yung belief ang dapat andun," he added.
Dela Cruz continued his impressive run in Salado's absence, finishing with 20 points and five assists as Flores added 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
Christian Bunag led the Cardinals with 22 points and 16 rebounds as they ended the season in the cellar with a 3-15 record.
Arellano 81 - Dela Cruz 20, Flores 14, Nicholls 11, Alcoriza 8, Cañete 6, Enriquez 6, Viloria 5, Meca 4, Taywan 4, Abanes 3, Concepcion 0, Ongolo Ongolo 0, Padilla 0, Filart 0.
Mapua 64 - Buñag 22, Pelayo 9, Victoria 8, Gabo 7, Estrella 6, Orquina 5, Raflores 4, Jimenez 3, Aguirre 0.
Quarterscores: 17-13; 39-28; 58-48; 81-64.