NCAA: Dominant Arana powers Arellano into play-in

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 27 2022 05:45 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Justin Arana registered another monster double-double to power Arellano University past Jose Rizal University (JRU), 65-62, in their final elimination round game of NCAA Season 97 on Wednesday at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.

The Chiefs ended the elimination round with a 4-5 win-loss record, assuring them of a spot in the league's play-in tournament. The Heavy Bombers ended at 1-8 and were already out of the running.

Arana scored 18 points and grabbed a whopping 29 rebounds while playing all 40 minutes of the contest. Kalen Doromal had 13 points and Raymart Sablan added 11, but it was Kobe Caballero who drilled the biggest shot of the game with under two minutes left.

"Para kasi sa akin, ayaw ko na matapos 'yung season ko dito. Gusto ko 'yung Final 4 at championship, umabot kami," said Arana after the game. "Kaya binigay ko na talaga lahat."

"Kahit sobrang pagod na ako, ayaw ko talagang lumabas, kasi kailangan ko talagang dumepensa, rumebound. Especially sa rebound talaga, kasi 'yun ang puhunan talaga namin, depensa," he added.

The Chiefs led by as much as 10 points in the third quarter but were never able to pull away completely. Their turnovers allowed the Heavy Bombers to catch up, with Jason Celis pouncing on a poor inbound pass for a layup and a bonus free throw that gave JRU a 60-58 lead with under four minutes left.

It was back-and-forth from there, with Celis giving the Bombers their last lead at 62-61 off a jumper. In the next possession, Caballero knocked down his long field goal of the ball game to put Arellano ahead for good, 63-62.

The Arellano defense held firm in the closing stretches, and Arana extended their lead with two free throws with 37.8 seconds to go. JRU still had a chance when Sablan turned the ball over, but Celis badly missed a three-pointer with four seconds to go.

Evan Agbong led JRU with 16 points, and Marwin Dionisio added 11 markers. However, the Heavy Bombers struggled to keep Arana off the boards, and the Chiefs scored 14 second chance pints, thanks to 14 offensive rebounds.

The scores:

ARELLANO 65 -- Arana 18, Doromal 13, Sablan 11, Sta. Ana 7, Oliva 6, Concepcion 3, Valencia 2, Caballero 2, Carandang 2, Cruz 1, Steinl 0.

JRU 62 -- Agbong 16, Dionisio 11, Macatangay 9, Delos Santos 8, Arenal 7, Celis 7, Guiab 4, Jungco 0, Bongay 0, Aguado 0, Estrella 0, Aguilar 0, C. Gonzales 0, dela Rama 0. 

Quarters: 20-17, 34-28, 53-46, 65-62.