MANILA, Philippines – Playing without injured guard Kent Salado, the Arellano University Chiefs still overpowered University of Perpetual Help, 62-52, to keep their Final 4 hopes alive in the NCAA Season 93 tournament on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The high-scoring Salado was ruled out for a month due to a right knee injury, but the Chiefs still had enough to win comfortably against a Perpetual Help squad that is already out of the running for a semifinals spot.
It was Arellano's third win in a row, putting them at 8-9 heading into their final game against Mapua University.
Meanwhile, the woeful Altas lost for the sixth straight time to drop to 4-12.
Big man Lervin Flores tallied 19 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, while Rence Alcoriza contributed 16 points and seven boards. Levi dela Cruz, who started in Salado's palce, had 11 points, four boards, and four dimes.
"Ang laking change para sa kanila without Kent," said Arellano coach Jerry Codiñera after the contest. "Siympere, 'yung takbo ng bola, iba, pero naka-adjust naman sila."
"We started bad, medyo hindi maka-score. Pero noong naka-shoot na si Flores, nawala 'yung doubts, 'yung apprehensions," he added.
Without Salado, the Chiefs had trouble breaking down Perpetual Help's defense in the opening quarter, before Flores began to assert himself inside the paint. Showing no fear of attacking the defense of Prince Eze, Flores fired 16 points in the first half, making seven of his 11 attempts from the field.
It was Alcoriza who put the Chiefs on top for the first time, 25-23, with 2:48 left in the second quarter after converting a three-pointer off a Michael Cañete assist. Arellano never looked back, even leading by as much as 20 points in the game.
"Sinabi ko naman sa kanila, with or without Kent, we'll play and do our best," said Codiñera.
A three-pointer by Zach Nicholls put the Chiefs on top, 59-39, with five minutes left to play. Only a 13-2 run by the Altas to end the game made the final score more respectable, but Perpetual Help never truly threatened in the second half.
AJ Coronel led Perpetual Help with 14 points, while Eze finished with 11 points and a whopping 22 rebounds.
Even with the towering Eze inside, however, the Chiefs still finished with more boards, 50-45. Perpetual Help's scoring woes doomed them anew, as they managed only six points in the second quarter that proved to be the turning point of the contest.
ARELLANO 62 – Flores 19, Alcoriza 16, Dela Cruz 11, Canete 6, Nicholls 5, Villoria 4, Meca 1, Enriquez 0, Abanes 0, Ongolo Ongolo 0, Taywan 0, Concepcion 0, Padilla 0
PERPETUAL 52 – Coronel 14, Eze 11, Lucente 10, Pido 8, Dagangon 6, Ylagan 3, Tamayo 0, Casas 0, Clemente 0, Yuhico 0, Mangalino 0, Sadiwa 0
Quarter scores: 14-17, 29-23, 48-34, 62-52
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