ARELLANO compounded the misery of Mapua, 68-63, but only after fending off a tough challenge by the Cardinals on Friday in the resumption of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Chiefs encountered stiff resistance from the Cardinals throughout, but showed enough composure down the stretch to hold off their opponents to notch a third victory in four games and gain a share of third spot with San Sebastian.
Arellano also kept the Cardinals winless after five starts.
It was the second successive sorry loss for the Chiefs, who suffered a 78-80 decision at the hands of Lyceum last Monday.
“Ang team na ‘to angpinaka-ayawkosalahatnakalaban,” Chiefs coach Jerry Codiñera said of the Cardinals“We knew they were going to fight until the end.”
Keith Agovida was a rebound away from a double-double with 12 points, scoring half in a crucial stretch in the final frame, while Ralph Salcedo, Dioncee Holts, and Nard Pinto chipped in 10 markers apiece.
Andoy Estrella fired a game-high 20 points, but missed a potential game-tying triple in the Cardinals’ last offensive possession. It was the streaky guard’s second crucial miss in as many games after he botched an overtime-sending layup against the Knights.
For a while, though, the Cardinals seemed poised for a breakthrough victory in Season 90 as they kept in step with the Chiefs in the game that saw 11 lead changes and 10 deadlocks.
The Cardinals never allowed the Chiefs to build a double-digit cushion, trailing at the most by eight points as they showed improved defense by limiting the usually high-scoring Chiefs, who came in averaging a league-best 84.7 points per game, to their season-low output.
Jeson Cantos buried a jumper that put Mapua to within 63-64, with a with one minute and 24 seconds left, before Salcedo and Holts retaliated with two free throws each down the stretch that proved to be the insurance points.
AU 68 – Agovida 12, Salcedo 10, Pinto 10, Holts 10, Hernandez 8, Gumaru 7, Jalalon 6, Caperal 4, Ciriacruz 1, Nicholls 0, Bangga 0, Palma 0, Ortega 0, Cadavis 0
MIT 63 – Estrella 20, Gabo 10, Saitanan 9, Isit 8, Magsigay 6, Cantos 6, Layug 3, Canaynay 1, Tubiano 0
Quarterscores: 18-20, 32-30, 48-48, 68-63