January 24, 2018, 1:24 am
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Chiefs win, boost Final Four hopes

ALTHOUGH playing with skipper Ken Salado, Arellano University outlasted Perpetual Help yesterday 65-52 and boosted its Final Four hopes in the 93rd NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.

With Salado missing the game with a right knee injury, Lervin Flores and Rence Alcoriza stepped up as the Chiefs posted their third straight win and improved to 8-9, just half-a-game behind fourth-running Letran, which has an even 8-8 card.

Flores had 19 points, eight rebounds and four blocks while Alcoriza scattered 16 points, including two triples.

In the other seniors game, College St. Benilde rode on the shoulders of Senegalese import Clement Leutcheu to eliminated Emilio Aguinaldo College with a 94-84 win in overtime.

Leutcheu powered his way to 24 points and 14 boards as the Blazers booked their fourth win against 13 setbacks while knocking out the Generals from Final Four contention. The Generals slipped to 6-11. 

Salado, who is averaging a league-best 19 points and five assists, injured his knee in Arellano’s 85-79 win over San Sebastian last Tuesday.

Small but lightning-quick Levi dela Cruz handled the backcourt duties with aplomb for the Chiefs.

“The players knew before the game that with or without Salado, we have to find ways to win, good thing we did,” said Arellano coach Jerry Codinera.

Lyceum, San Beda and Jose Rizal U have booked Final Four spots with 16-0, 15-1 and 11-6 cards.

Arellano needs to beat Mapua on Tuesday and hope Letran loses one of its remaining games against San Beda today and St. Benilde on Tuesday to forge a playoff for the No. 4 semis berth.

“We just have to take care of our business and hope for the best,” said Codinera.

The Chiefs started out slow and trailed 14-17 at the end of the opening quarter.

But the high-leaping 6-foot-5 Flores, a native of Masantol, Pampanga; Alcoriza and dela Cruz took charge and sparked a run that helped the team turn things around.

The Altas, led by Nigerian Prince Eze who had 11 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks, slumped to 4-12.
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