NCAA: Arana shines late, powers Arellano past Mapua for second win

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 10 2022 02:52 PM

Arellano center Justin Arana. Screencap courtesy of the NCAA.
Arellano center Justin Arana. Screencap courtesy of the NCAA.

MANILA, Philippines -- Justin Arana took charge late to power Arellano University to a much-needed 72-63 triumph over Mapua University in the NCAA Season 97 men's basketball tournament, Sunday at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.

Arana scored 12 of his game-high 17 points in the second half, while also tallying 15 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks in 36 minutes as the Chiefs snapped a three-game losing streak.

They improved to 2-3 in the season and boosted their chances of qualifying for the NCAA's play-in tournament. Arellano is currently tied in the standings with Perpetual Help and Emilio Aguinaldo College.

"Sobrang tuwa kami. Galing nga kami sa tatlong sunod-sunod na talo, so pinagtrabahuhan lang namin and nakuha namin ang panalo. Sobrang saya ng araw na 'to," said Arana, who continues his fine play despite suffering what was initially feared as a season-ending injury in their first game of the tournament.

Arellano was in control for most of the way, but the Cardinals cut the lead to two points, 62-60, off a transition basket by Adrian Nocum with still 4:11 to play.

The Chiefs responded with 10 unanswered points, six of which came from Arana, to pull away anew. Their defense kept Mapua in check, and the Cardinals would not score again until there were only 30 seconds left on the clock and the game was well in hand for Arellano.

"Basta sinasabi ko lang, mindset ko, ang depensa talaga, kailangan kasi 'yun nga, physical 'yung kalaban. Kaya kailangan ako talaga magli-lead sa depensa," said Arana. "Buti na lang talaga nagkaisa kami ng buong team namin, nag-contribute talaga."

Jordan Sta. Ana contributed 15 points, and his layup with under four minutes to play sparked the Chiefs' game-breaking run. He also had seven assists in 32 minutes. Art Oliva added 10 points in the win.

Warren Bonifacio led Mapua with 11 points and 10 boards, but no other Cardinal reached double figures. They shot just 35.7% from the field and allowed Arellano to convert 51.7% of their looks. 

This is Mapua's second loss in a row after opening their campaign with three consecutive wins. 

The scores:

ARELLANO 72 -- Arana 17, Sta. Ana 15, Oliva 10, Doromal 9, Carandang 6, Sablan 4, Uri 4, Caballero 3, Cruz 2, Dela Cruz 2, Valencia 0.

MAPUA 63 -- Bonifacio 11, Pido 9, Nocum 9, Garcia 8, Agustin 7, Gamboa 7, Hernandez 7, Lacap 5, Mercado 0, Asuncion 0, Sual 0, Salenga 0, Milan 0.

Quarter-scores: 23-19, 41-35, 56-48, 72-63.