FINALLY playing like the powerhouse team it was billed before the start of the season, Arellano sent Lyceum crashing back to earth with a 68-60 triumph yesterday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Chiefs used a fiery start and got their acts together in the final period of the highly physical game to hold off the Pirates who came into the game on a high after a stunning win over defending champion San Beda last Monday.
With the Chiefs stifling the Pirates to just a single field goal in the first period, Arellano, one of the pre-tournament favorites, seized control early on its way to its first win of the season.
“There was tremendous pressure going into the season, being tagged as a team to watch,” said Arellano coach Koy Banal. “We tried to manage expectations but everyone rode the hype. But right now, it’s all about composure in dealing with the situation.”
Coming out with more fire and tenacity than in their 76-78 loss to San Sebastian in their season-opener, the Chiefs posted leads of as many as 16 points and never allowed the Pirates to come closer than six points the rest of the way.
Rookie Jiovani Jalalon fired 13 points, including nine in the second half for the Chiefs, who lost Levi Hernandez midway in the third period due to a disqualifying foul.
“Anybody on this team can step up on any given day,” said Banal, referring to Jalalon’s surprisingly solid performance.
Hernandez already had 11 points when he elbowed Lyceum’s Cameroonian forward Aziz Mbomiko and was ejected.
The Pirates struggled in the face of the Chiefs’ suffocating defense. They committed 10 turnovers in the first period alone, where they were held to just five points, before finishing with a season-high 29 errors.
Sensational in the victory against the Lions, whom he burned for 23 points, Ko had just seven markers before fouling out in the final period.
ARELLANO 68—Jalalon 13, Hernandez 11, Enriquez 10, Forrester 8, Pinto 7, Agovida 6, Caperal 4, Gumaru 4, Bangga 3, Salcedo 2, Nicholls 0, Margallo 0, Cadavis 0.
LYCEUM 60—Mbomiko 18, Mendoza 14, Ko 7, Francisco 6, Lacastesantos 6, Baltazar 4, Zamora 3, Azores 2, Soliman 0, Alanes 0, Ambohot 0, Garcia 0, Lesmoras 0.
Quarters: 17-5, 33-26, 53-42, 68-60