JUSTIN Arana recorded his fourth double-double of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as Arellano University halted a three-game slide with a 72-63 win over Mapua yesterday at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.
Arana scored 17 points, 12 in the second half, and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Chiefs overcame a late Cardinals rally to tie their victims at 2-3.
“Salamat at nakaahon rin,” said Arellano coach Cholo Martin. “Iyon ang ipinaglalaban ng mga bata, yung umangat kami sa standings.”
Teams up to sixth place can still advance into the Final Four by via play-in route.
“Oo kaya pa yung Final Four, yun ang talagang target namin. Pero top six muna kasi yung top four malabo na kasi apat na sila ron eh,” said Martin.
After starting 3-0, Mapua has lost two in a row, putting its bid for an outright Final Four berth in peril.
Later, San Sebastian forced a four-way tie with Arellano, University of Perpetual Help System Dalta and Emilio Aguinaldo College in fifth place with a 83-71 conquest of Lyceum of the Philippines University.
Arana, who also had three assists and three steals, was very delighted to see his team rediscover its winning ways.
“Sobrang saya namin ngayon kasi nga frustrated kami kasi sunod-sunod nga talo namin,” said Arana.
The Cardinals threatened at 60-62 with 4:11 remaining, when Arana scattered six points in the Chiefs’ 10-0 lead to put the game away at 72-60.
Martin is making sure that Arana, who played a season-high 36 minutes, is being taking care off as he is still recovering from a right knee sprain the 6-foot-7 center sustained in Arellano’s season-opening win over San Sebastian.
“Kailangan ko munang mag-focus sa strengthening and therapy. Siguro sa practice, ingat na lang muna, mahirap na baka matuluyan,” said Arana.
“Okay naman ang strengthening ng tuhod ko. Siyempre kailangan kong ibuhos lahat dito sa laro kasi ito na ang hinihintay namin, he added.
Jordan Sta. Ana also played big for the Chiefs with 15 points, 7 assists and four rebounds while Kai Oliva added 10 points.
Ranged against Arana, Mapua slotman Warren Bonifacio produced 11 points and 10 rebounds.
JM Calma (23 points and 11 rebounds) and Ken Villapando (12 points and 14 boards) produced double-double outings for the Stags, who also drew 15 points from Rommel Calahat.
“The boys stepped up,” said coach Egay Macaraya after San Sebastian rebounded from last Friday’s heartbreaking 60-61 loss to San Beda.
The Pirates, for their part, lost for the fourth time in five games.
Arellano (72) — Arana 17, Sta. Ana 15, Oliva 10, Doromal 9, Carandang 6, Sablan 4, Uri 4, Caballero 3, Cruz 2, Dela Cruz 2, Valencia 0.
Mapua (63) — Bonifacio 11, Pido 9, Nocum 9, Garcia 8, Agustin 7, Garcia 7, Hernandez 7, Lacap 0, Mercado 0, Asuncion 0, Sual 0, Salenga 0, Milan 0.
Quarterscores: 23-19, 41-35, 56-48, 72-63
SSC-R (83) — Calma 23, Calahat 15, Villapando 12, Sumoda 8, Una 8, Dela Cruz 5, Gabat 4, Shanoda 4, Felebrico 2, Cosari 2, Desoyo 0, Abarquez 0.
LPU (71) — Larupay 14, Valdez 12, Navarro 11, Guinto 8, Bravo 7, Guadaña 7, Remulla 4, Cunanan 2, Garro 2, Umali 2, Barba 2.
Quarterscores: 23-20, 46-29, 61-51, 83-71