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Chiefs check Altas, stay in Final 4 chase

Arellano Chief Lervin Flores hangs on to the rim after a dunk over Prince Eze of Perpetual Help. JUN MENDOZA

Games today

8 a.m. – MU vs SSC-R (jrs), 10 a.m. – SBC vs CSJL (jrs)

12 nn. – MU vs SSC-R (srs), 2 p.m. – SBC vs CSJL (srs)

4 p.m. – JRU vs LPU (srs), 6 p.m. – JRU vs LPU (jrs)

MANILA, Philippines — Arellano University bucked the absence of top player Kent Salado as it downed Perpetual Help, 62-52, yesterday to stay in the Final Four hunt in the 93rd NCAA seniors basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Levi dela Cruz took over the backcourt chores left by Salado while Lervin Flores and Rence Alcoriza combined for 35 points as the Chiefs disposed of the Altas and grabbed solo fifth at 8-9, just half-a-game behind the Letran Knights (8-8) heading to homestretch of the double-round elims.

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Salado, who normed a league-best 19 points and five assists, tore his right MCL (medial collateral ligament) in the Chiefs’ 85-79 victory over the San Sebastian Stags last Tuesday and will be out for at least a month, ruling him out of Arellano U for the rest of the season.

But AU coach Jerry Codiñera has been drawing solid games from the rest of the Chiefs with Flores coming away with 19 points, including 16 in the first half when the Bustillos-based squad took control.

He also grabbed eight rebounds and came away with four blocks while Alcoriza drained two triples and finished with 16 markers.

The diminutive Dela Cruz, on the other hand, orchestrated the team’s play with precision from the second quarter on. He finished with 11 points, four rebounds and the same number of assists to more than make up for Salado’s absence.

The Chiefs close out their eliminations campaign against the ousted Mapua Cardinals next week.

Lyceum of the Phl U (16-0), San Beda (15-1) and Jose Rizal (11-6) took the first three semis berths with the last a toss-up among Letran, Arellano and San Sebastian (7-9).

The Pirates and the Lions also gained the twice-to-beat edges in the Final Four.

“I’m proud of the boys for stepping up in the absence of Salado,” said Codiñera.

The Chiefs actually struggled in the early going and trailed, 14-17, before the high-leaping 6-5 Flores, a native of Masantol, Pampanga, Alcoriza and Dela Cruz put their act together and sparked a run that helped AU seize the lead in the second period.

The Altas, led by Nigerian Prince Eze’s 11 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks, fell to 4-12. 

In the second game, St. Benilde rode on huge 24-point and 14-rebound effort by Senegalese Clement Leutcheu as it ousted Emilio Aguinaldo College from Final Four contention with a 94-84 overtime victory.

It was the Blazers’ fourth win against 13 defeats while the Generals fell to their 11th setback against six victories that officially eliminated the latter from the battle for the last semis seat.

The scores:

First Game

Arellano U 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

Second Game

CSB 94 – Leutcheu 24, Dixon 19, Naboa 13, Domingo 10, San Juan 7, Suarez 6, Castro 4, Johnson 4, Sta. Maria 3, Belgica 2, Young 1, Velasco 1, Bunyi 0, Pili 0.

EAC 84 – Bautista 17, Munsayac 16, Onwubere 15, Garcia 14, Bugarin 8, Diego 7, I. Mendoza 2, J. Mendoza 2, Tampoc 2, Pascua 1, Corilla 0, Neri 0.

Quarterscores: 14-10, 30-36, 55-55, 78-78 (Reg.), 94-84 (OT)

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