Even without star player Kent Salado, Arellano University found a way to beat University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 62-52, on Thursday and keep its Final Four hopes alive in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 93 seniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Chiefs banked on Lervin Flores, who tallied 12 of his 19 points in the first quarter in addition to his eight rebounds and four blocks, and Rence Alcoriza, who notched 16 points, as Arellano improved its win-loss record to 8-9.
If AU beat Mapua on October 17, and if Letran (8-8) and San Sebastian College (7-9) lose all their remaining games, then the Chiefs will advance to the Final Four round.
Lyceum (16-0), defending champion San Beda (15-1) and Jose Rizal University (11-6) have already secured their spots in the next stage of the tournament.
“With or without Kent (Salado), we will play and do our best. We will offer our last game to Kent,” said Arellano coach Jerry Codiñera.
Salado was declared out of the season after suffering a medial collateral ligament injury in their 85-79 win against San Sebastian last Tuesday. Salado was averaging 19.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and five assists before his injury.
But his absence was hardly felt by Arellano in the game.
“We adjusted very well without Salado in this game. We started bad. But when Flores made his shots, everything went well,” added Codiñera, referring to 14-17 deficit at the end of the opening period.
Led by Alcoriza, the Chiefs uncorked a 21-3 run to establish a 44-25 cushion with still 3:25 left in the third frame. Arellano was never threatened since then to claim its fourth straight win.
Levi Dela Cruz contributed 11 points also for the Chiefs.
The Altas suffered their sixth straight setback for a 4-12 win-loss record.
Jeff Coronel led Perpetual with 14 points while Prinze Eze had 11 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks.
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 Help 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
Quarterscores: 14-17; 29-23; 48-34; 62-52