ARELLANO survived a shaky endgame, holding off Emilio Aguinaldo College, 80-73, on Monday at The Arena in San Juan to gain a piece of the lead in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Chiefs almost squandered a double-digit deficit no thanks to some bad breaks in the endgame, before holding on to remain undefeated after two starts and join San Beda and University of Perpetual Help on top.
The Generals dropped their first game after winning their opening assignment last week.
“May mga calls the last few minutes na I cannot understand siguro…but good thing we had a buffer,” Chiefs coach Jerry Codiñera said.
Levi Hernandez led the Chiefs in establishing their cushion, finishing with 20 points, making all but one of his 11 attempts inside the arc, while American big man Dioncee Holts sustained his imposing presence, registering a second straight double-double with 15 points and 10 boards.
Hernandez fired 12 of his output in the third quarter, where the Chiefs started to pull away and established a double-digit lead.
The veteran guard's performance negated the torrid outside shooting of Jan Jamon, who buried five triples, the last with one minute and 23 seconds remaining that cut the Generals’ deficit to just 73-77 after trailing by as many as 14 points early in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs were also on the wrong end of some calls—turnovers and fouls—that left them without a field goal within the last three minutes. After Prince Caperal knocked in a tough turnaround jumper that made it 74-62 with 3:35 left, the Chiefs scored their last six points from the charity stripe.
Still, the Generals failed to take advantage of the breaks that went their way as they missed their attempts and committed their own turnovers—a shot clock violation and a John Tayongtong turnover—after Jamon’s last triple.
AU 80 – Hernandez 20, Holts 15, Pinto 11, Jalalon 7, Caperal 7, Agovida 5, Bangga 4, Enriquez 4, Ciriacruz 3, Gumaru 2, Salcedo 2, Nicholls 0
EAC 73 – Jamon 20, Happi 17, Tayongtong 10, Aguilar 6, Arquero 6, Onwubere 4, King 3, Serrano 3, Santos 2, Saludo 2, Mejos 0
Quarterscores: 20-20, 43-40, 67-55, 80-73