ARELLANO overcame a late-game scare to pull off an 83-74 victory over Letran and secure a Final Four slot in the NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre on Friday.
Jio Jalalon came away with a near-triple double output in leading the Chiefs to 12-3 win-loss record for solo first spot that entails a twice-to-beat edge in the Final Four.
Jalalon also restored order when the Knights were threatening to storm back from 20 points down and finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists in the process.
"Grabe effort. Walang game na hindi close fight. Laking relief sa amin na nakabalik kami Final Four," said Arellano coach Jerry Codinera.
Kent Salado and Donald Gumaru added 12 and 10 markers, respectively, for the Chiefs, who took a 40-20 lead in the second period on Zach Nichols' three-pointer.
But the defending champions refused to fold. In fact, Letran gained steam in the fourth period and pulled to within seven, 71-64 on Jom Sollano's putback with under four minutes left.
But Jalalon took over from there, scoring eight of the team's 12 points inside the final three minutes.
"Sobrang saya namin kasi nakabalik na kami sa Final Four at naka-isa na rin ako sa Letran," said Jalalon, whose team won against Letran for the first time in two years.
The loss dented Letran's playoff hopes as the Knights dropped to a pedestrian 8-8 record.
Rey Nambatac paced the Knights with 28 points, while Sollano and John Quinto had 15 and 10, respectively.
Arellano 83 - Jalalon 22, Salado 12, Gumaru 10, Cadavis 8, Holts 8, Nichols 8, Meca 7, Flores 6, Villoria 2, Aguilar 0, Enriquez 0, Gupilan 0.
Letran 74 - Nambatac 28, Sollano 15, Quinto 10, Balanza 9, Calvo 7, Luib 3, Apreku 2, Ambohot 0, Balagasay 0, Bernabe 0, Dela Pena 0.
Quarterscores: 20-10, 45-30, 65-53, 83-74