THE Arellano University Chiefs bucked a slow start without injured point guard Kent Salado.
But with alternate Levi dela Cruz taking his place the Chiefs came to life in the third period and put away the University of Perpetual Help Altas, 62-52, yesterday at the Arena in San Juan.
This kept the Chiefs in contention for a playoff spot in the semifinals of the 93rd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament.
Lervin Flores showed the way with 19 points and eight rebounds for the Chiefs as they claimed their second consecutive win.
Alcoriza tallied 16 points for the Chiefs, who went on to earn their eighth victory in 17 games with still one more match left in their schedule.
For the Chiefs to make it to the stepladder semis, they have to hurdle the Mapua Cardinals.
The Letran Knights (8-9) and the San Sebastian Stags are also still in contention with their 8-8 and 7-9 cards.
The Knights still have to face the defending champion San Beda Red Lions and the College of St. Benilde Blazers.
The Stags have the Cardinals and Altas as their next opponents.
The Chiefs, getting 12 points from Flores in the first 10 minutes, pulled away on a 6-0 run with Flores scoring on every chance in the last 7:31.
But the Altas fought back behind Keith Pido’s penetrations to snatch the lead, 12-8.
A counterattack by the Chiefs in the second period allowed them to regain the upper hand to move away on a 6-0 spurt and move in front off Levi de la Cruz’s penetration, 29-23, at halftime.
A 7-0 blast touched off by de la Cruz and Kraniel Viloria’s triple allowed the Chiefs to finally take charge, 36-23.
“Ang laking change para sa kanila without Kent. Sinabi ko sa kanila na with or without Kent, we will play, we will do our best,” said coach Jerry Codiñera.
Salado was ruled out for a month due to a right knee injury he suffered in their game with the College of St. Benilde Blazers.
In the junior divison, Jielo Razon banged in 28 points as the University of Perpetual Help Junior Altas downed the Arellano Braves, 88-81.
Mark Gallano fired 16 points while Errol Bongay shot 15 for the Junior Altas, who improved at 6-10.
The Braves, whose 7-9 slate has put them out of contention, got 24 points from Fred Segura.
The Altas, who were led by Nigerian Prince Eze’s 11 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks, slumped to 4-12.
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
Quarter scores: 14-17, 29-23, 48-34, 62-52.
Games Today (at the Arena in San Juan)
8 a.m.Malayan vs San Sebastian (jrs)
10 a.m. San Beda vs Letran (jrs)
12 nn Mapua vs San Sebastian (srs)
2 p.m. San Beda vs Letran (srs)
4 p.m. JRU vs Lyceum (srs)
6 p.m. JRU vs Lyceum (jrs)