ARELLANO survived an early scare from a depleted Lyeum side before waltzing to a 93-80 victory in coach Jerry Codiñera’s debut on Monday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Codiñera passed his first test as coach as the Chiefs overhauled an early deficit with a second-half breakaway to pull off the rout.
“I didn’t really know how they will respond,” said Codiñera, whose team didn’t participate in the Filoil Flying V preseason tournament. “But I just relied on their judgment, kasi naniniwaala ako sa mga veterans ko.”
Nard Pinto shone brightest among the Chiefs’ stars, firing 16 of his 20 points in the second half where the Legarda-based squad turned the game around.
The Chiefs joined San Beda, San Sebastian, and Perpetual Help in the early lead, while leaving the Pirates disappointed after taking an early lead.
The 11-man Pirates side, which played its first game without Cameroonians Aziz Mbomiko and Guy Mbida, who were cut from the squad recently, were still ahead 56-48, before the Chiefs banked on a 17-2 scoring salvo to finish the third quarter. From there, the Chiefs never looked back.
The Pirates committed 23 turnovers, no thanks to the Chiefs’ stingy defense, instilled by Codiñera, known as the “Defense Minister” in his PBA heyday.
Pinto, the Davao native toughened by the PBA D-League where he played for Foundation Cup runner-up Blackwater, led the attack, while it was Joivani Jalalon who anchored the defense, coming up with four steals and leaving his imprint all-game long, flirting with a triple-double of nine points, eight boards, and eight assists.
Levi Hernandez and Zach Nicholls were on target from long range as usual with a combined six triples, Keith Agovida provided the energy, while American big man Dioncee Holts impressed in his debut with 11 points and 12 boards
AU 93 – Pinto 20, Hernandez 16, Agovida 13, Nicholls 12, Holts 11, Jalalon 9, Bangga 6, Caperal 4 Salcedo 2, Gumaru 0, Ciriacruz 0, Palma 0, Enriquez 0, Cadavis 0.
LPU 80 – Baltazar 15, Ko 15, Zamora 13, Bulawan 12, Maconocido 9, Gabayni 8, Soliman 5, Lesmoras 2, Malabanan 1, Elmejrab 0.
Quarterscores: 16-21; 37-41; 65-58; 93-80.