CLICKING on both ends of the floor once again, Arellano turned back University of Perpetual Help, 97-85, on Saturday to gain solo second place in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Behind an effective defense that translated to offense, the Chiefs thus registered their third straight win and fifth overall against one loss to notch their best start since joining the country’s oldest collegiate league in 2009.
More importantly, the Chiefs moved just a half-game behind defending champion San Beda (5-0) on top, while the Altas, instead of gaining second spot, dropped to fourth with a second straight loss against three victories.
The start still surprises Chiefs coach Jerry Codiñera.
“Hindi talaga (expected),” said Codiñera, who was hired starting this season to lead the squad to its first Final Four appearance in the league. “Hindi ko kasi alam paano sila mag-rerespond sa akin.”
The Chiefs drew significant contribution from a handful of players, led by Keith Agovida, who registered 22 points and 10 boards.
Nard Pinto and Jiovani Jalalon sustained their splendid playmaking, with the former pumping in 19 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and one block, while the latter added 16 points, seven assists, six boards, and two steals.
Levi Hernandez was on target from long range anew, tallying 14 points, including 11 in the third quarter, where the Chiefs turned the game around after trailing by as many as eight points and never looked back.
Allen Enriquez chipped in 11 points, six boards, and one steal in just 14 minutes as he teamed up with Agovida as the last line of defense in the Chiefs’ small lineup that was designed to match the quickness and athleticism of the Altas.
That proved to be the key for the Chiefs, who never let the Altas come closer than six points in the final frame.
Not even another dominant performance from the the Altas’ Big Three of Earl Thompson (25 points, 12 boards, six assists, four steals), Harold Arboleda (24 points, 14 caroms, five assists), and Juneric Baloria (18 points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal) could rescue them.
AU 97 – Agovida 22, Pinto 19, Jalalon 16, Hernandez 14, Enriquez 11, Salcedo 4, Holts 4, Ortega 3, Nicholls 2, Gumaru 1, Bangga 1, Ciriacruz 0, Palma 0, Caperal 0
UPHSD 85 – Thompson 25, Arboleda 24, Baloria 18, Jolangcob 7, Alano 5, Oliveria 2, Dizon 2, Lucente 2, Ylagan 0, Bantayan 0, Gallardo 0
Quarterscores: 22-21, 41-45, 68-64, 97-85