The Arellano University Chiefs erased a 16-point lead to dispatch the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Blazers, 87-81 and arrested a four-game losing skid in the first round of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan, Friday.
Chief playmaker Kent Salado gave Arellano the lead, 73-72, as he went for a layup with still 4:45 remaining in the final period.
Levi Dela Cruz made crucial baskets down the stretch, while Salado sank two free throws to put the finishing touches and pull Arellano away for good, 83-75, with under a minute to go in the game.
The Chiefs got left behind halfway through the second canto, 23-39, only to turn things around in the second half to elude another defeat.
Dela Cruz had a breakout game as he led the scoring for AU with 24 points, 50% from rainbow country. He also added four assists and three rebounds. Larvin Flores added a double-double – 14 markers and 11 boards.
On the flip side, Center Clement Leutcheu and Edward Dixon’s double-double both went for naught. They tallied 21 and 10 and 14 and 14, respectively.
Arellano U climbed to a 3-5 record, while St. Benilde fell to a 2-7 card.
AU 87 – Dela Cruz 24, Flores 14, Salado 9, Alcoriza 8, Enriquez 7, Nichols 7, Concepcion 6, Canete 4, Meca 4, Taywan 4, Ongolo Ongolo 0, Padilla 0, Viloria 0, Filart 0.
CSB 81 – Leutcheu 21, Dixon 14, Domingo 10, Sta. Maria 10, Naboa 9, Castor 8, Pili 6, San Juan 3, Young 0.
Quarterscores: 19-20, 35-47, 58-62, 87-81.