Veteran Prince Caperal delivered the final blow as the Arellano University Chiefs escaped with a 76-70 win over the College of St. Benilde Blazers on Thursday to keep their hopes alive in the 89th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The third year Bachelor in Hotel Management student scored the Chiefs’ final 10 points to secure their seventh win against nine losses while handing host Blazers their 11th setback in also 16 matches.
Coach Koy Banal of the Chiefs was ecstatic over the victory not only because it avenged a 62-69 loss to the Blazers in the first round of the elimination on August 12, but it kept their hope of making it to the next round along with the San Sebastian College Stags (9-7) and the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, who are toting an 8-8 win-loss slate.
The win also improved their 6-12 win-loss finish in the tournament last year.
The first three slots in Final Four are already taken by Letran Knights with a 14-3 win-loss slate while defending titlist San Beda College Red Lions are closely following with 13-3 card and 11-6 record for the University of Perpetual Help Altas.
It was not an easy win by the Chiefs after they were threatened for the last time 68-66 on Jonathan Grey’s basket still 3:18 remaining.
The Chiefs, however, could not be denied of the important victory as Caperal completed a pair of charity to stretch their lead back to four points, 70-64, only 3:04 to go.
They will next face the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers in a must win situation on October 24.
The 6’3” Caperal finished with 25 points and hauled down eight rebounds. He shoot a high 11-of-14 attempts in the free throw that kept the Chiefs at bay.
Besides Caperal, also contributing heavily for the Chiefs were John Pinto with 13 points, Levi Hernandez and Keith Agovida with 12-point apiece. Juan Paolo Taha topscored for the Blazers with 20 points, Jonathan Grey added 13 and 12 from Mark Romero.