ARELLANO University bucked the absence of injured Kent Salado to beat University of Perpetual Help, 62-52, on Thursday to remain in the running for a Final Four berth in the 93rd National Collegiate Athletic Association seniors’ basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Lervin Flores pounded his way to 19 points, eight rebounds and four blocks while Rence Alcoriza scattered 16 points, including two booming triples, to plug the holes left by Salado.
Salado—who averages a league-best 19 points and five assists—incurred a right MCL (medial collateral ligament) injury in their 85-79 win over San Sebastian last Tuesday.
Small but lightning-quick Levi dela Cruz handled the backcourt duties with aplomb to also help fill the Salado void.
“The players knew before the game that with or without Salado, we have to find ways to win, good thing we did,” Arellano University head coach Jerry Codinera said.
The Chiefs have now won three straight games and improved to 8-9 (win-loss), half a game behind fourth-running Letran (8-8).
Lyceum of the Philippines University (16-0), San Beda (15-1) and Jose Rizal College (11-6) already booked Final Four spots.
“It was a big chance for them that Kent did not play. Good thing, my players adjusted well even without Kent who manages the flow of the ball. We started bad, but we regained control,” Codiñera added.
Arellano University must beat Mapua on Tuesday and hope Letran doesnot to sweep its remaining games against San Beda today and Saint Benilde on Tuesday to stay in the hunt for the semifinals.
“We just have to take care of our business and hope for the best,” Codinera said.
The Chiefs started slow and trailed, 14-17, at the end of the first quarter.
But the high-leaping 6-foot-5 Flores of Masantol, Pampanga, as well Alcoriza and de l a Cruz took charge and sparked a run that turned the game around for the Chiefs.
The Altas—led by Nigerian Prince Eze’s 11 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks—slumped to 4-12.