Birthday-boy Donald Gumaru couldn't have picked better time to snap out of slump
Donald Gumaru and Jio Jalalon combined for 17 points in a 19-1 run that put Mapua away for good. Dante Peralta

A STELLAR performance couldn't have come at a better time for Arellano guard Donald Gumaru. 

Birthday boy Gumaru, who turned 24 on Tuesday, stepped up when the Chiefs needed him most, scoring 15 points behind five timely three pointers in the second half in a 95-82 win over Mapua in the NCAA.

And he was just thankful for the trust and confidence his team has on him.

"Sabi ni coach at mga teammates ko, 'Tira ka lang ng tira.' Kaya ayun ginawa ko lang yung best ko," said the 24-year-old cager, who was 6-of-44 from the field prior to the game.

"Inisip ko na last year ko ngayon at ibigay ko na dapat 'yung best ko hanggang matapos yung season. Gusto rin namin makapasok sa finals kaya dapat magtulungan kami," he added.

His three-point spree helped Arellano turn a 74-75 deficit into a comfortable 93-76 cushion with under two minutes left. The Chiefs went on to clinch the first twice-to-beat spot in the Final Four with a 14-3 win-loss record. 

Jio Jalalon, who erupted for 35 points to lead all scorers, also lauded Gumaru's effort.

"Sobrang halaga talaga sa amin (ng breakout game niya)," said Jalalon who added five rebounds, five assists, and five steals to his tally. "Siya yung third guard sa amin kaya kailangan nya mag-step up. Maganda ang nilaro niya."

Both cagers combined for 17 points in a 19-1 run in the final minutes that put away the Cardinals for good.  

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