Games Friday (October 13)
(FilOil Flying-V Centre, San Juan)
12 p.m. – MU vs SSC-R
2 pm – SBC vs CSJL
4 pm- JRU vs LPU
MANILA, Philippines — Arellano University bucked the absence of Kent Salado as it downed Perpetual Help, 62-52 to keep its Final Four hopes afloat in the 93rd NCAA basketball tournament at the Filoil Arena in San Juan City Thursday.
Salado tore his right MCL (medial collateral ligament) in an 85-79 win over the San Sebastian Stags Tuesday that will need at least a month to heal, which ruled him out for the rest of the season including this important game.
The Chiefs, however, got big games from Lervin Flores and Rence Alcoriza while Levi dela Cruz took over the backcourt chores to fill the void left by Salado, who was averaging a league-best 19 points and five assists before he suffered the season-ending injury.
Flores powered his way to 19 points, 16 of which came in the first half when AU made its move, on top of eight rebounds and four blocks while Alcoriza fired 16 including two booming triples to seal their eighth win against nine losses, half a game behind No. 4 Letran (8-8).
For the diminutive dela Cruz, he had 11 points, four rebounds and the same number of assists, enough to help fill the Salado vacuum.
AU tackles Mapua next week with an eye of booking the fourth and last spot in the playoff round.
Lyceum of the Philippine U (16-0), San Beda (15-1) and Jose Rizal (11-6) were the first three Final Four entrants.
“I’m proud of the boys for stepping up in the absence of Salado,” said AU coach Jerry Codinera.
The Chiefs started out slow and trailed, 14-17, at the end of the opening quarter.
But the high-leaping 6-5 Flores, a native of Masantol, Pampanga, Alcoriza and dela Cruz took charge and sparked a run that helped AU turn things around in its favor.
The Altas, who were led by Nigerian Prince Eze’s 11 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks, slumped to 4-12.