WITH the door for a spot in the Final Four of Season 93 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament still ajar, the Arellano Chiefs are going for it in their remaining games in the elimination round, including their matchup today against the already-eliminated Perpetual Help Altas at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Fanned their playoff push with an 85-79 win over the San Sebastian Stags, one of their rivals for the lone semifinal spot left, last Tuesday, the Chiefs look to book another win in their 2 p.m. game with the Altas to give themselves added leverage to advance to the next round via playoff, if not outright entry.
In beating the Stags, Arellano rode on the strong effort of floor leader Kent Salado in the first three quarters and built on the momentum they got from it to hang on and secure the win over San Sebastian.
Salado led the Chiefs with 22 points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals before exiting early in the fourth period after hyperextending his right leg and did not reenter the game.
Michael Canete added 15 markers and Levi dela Cruz chipped in 10 points of his own.
“Kent set things for us in the game and it was for the other players to pick it up especially when he went out. Good thing the players help each other,” said Arellano coach Jerry Codiñera after their win.
The victory allowed the Chiefs to tie their conquered Stags at fifth place with a 7-9 record, just a rung below number four team Letran Knights at 8-8.
All three teams are still in the running for the Final Four with two remaining games each.
They hope to join the Lyceum Pirates (16-0), defending champions San Beda Red Lions (15-1) and Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers (11-6) who are already through to the semifinals.
Out to spoil things for Arellano is Perpetual Help (4-11), which has struggled collectively following key player departures in the offseason.
The Altas have lost five straight matches prior and are looking to finish their campaign on a positive note with three games left.
Meanwhile, in the second game at 4 p.m., also-rans Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals (6-10) and College of St. Benilde Blazers (3-13) play their penultimate elimination round game in the ongoing season of the country’s longest-standing collegiate league.
Both teams enter the contest having lost their last four games. – Michael Angelo S. Murillo