ARELLANO University went to Rocky Acidre in the clutch as the Chiefs withstood Jose Rizal University’s late rally for an 85-82 win on Monday in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Chiefs squandered a late double-digit lead, but held on as Acidre delivered down the stretch in leading the team to only its fourth victory in 10 games.
After being held to just three points in the payoff period in their lopsided loss to Mapua last week, the Chiefs found the late offensive punch from Acidre, who pumped in 13 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth.
John Pinto also shone for Arellano as the rookie guard from Davao City helped the Chiefs pull away from a tied game at the half to a 62-51 lead by the end of the third.
Pinto, who finished with 16 points, suffered cramps late in the game that prompted the Chiefs to turn to Acidre, who came off the bench for the first time this season.
“(With the move) I thought na baka magbago yung complexion ng game, and it did,” Chiefs coach Koy Banal said.
“Bonus na lang ang opensa kasi depensa talaga pinaghihirapan namin,” said Acidre, a third-year guard from Tacloban City. “Dumadating lang talaga yung bola sa akin.”
Trailing, 65-75, halfway through the fourth, the Bombers once again relied on their full-court defense to score 10 unanswered points and tie the game with three minutes and 35 seconds left.
After the Chiefs countered with crucial baskets to make it 83-78 with 31 seconds to go, Byron Villarias, fresh from his career-high 29 points last week, converted a rare four-point play as the Bombers suddenly came within a point.
Nate Matute led the Bombers with 21 points, but his desperation three-pointer at the buzzer missed its mark and failed to send the game into overtime.
Villarias added 17 for JRU, which lost for only the third time in 10 outings.
AU (85) -- Acidre 22, Pinto 16, Forrester 16, Hernandez 9, Zulueta 6, Caperal 5, Cadavis 5, Salcedo 4, Bangga 2
JRU (82) -- Matute 21, Villarias 17, Mabulac 13, Lopez 10, Almario 7, Carampil 6, Diapera 6, Camasura 2, Dela Paz 0, Salaveria 0, Mendoza 0, Maconocido 0, Porter 0
Quarterscores: 18-13, 34-34, 62-51, 85-82