Arellano, Mapua dispute last NCAA Final Four spot
GAMES TUESDAY (MOA Arena)
2 p.m.—Mapua vs Arellano
4 p.m.—San Beda vs Learn
One team will end its season Tuesday while the other successfully moves over to the Final Four when Arellano and Mapua collide in a make-or-break playoff in the NCAA Season 91 men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.
Out of the semifinal picture for a long time, the Cardinals are enjoying their finest form under head coach Atoy Co while the Chiefs, last season’s runner-up, are raring to redeem themselves in the championship.
With pride also at stake, San Beda and Letran tangle in the other game with the winner securing the No. 1 spot in Final Four.
“Can we beat Arellano with the kind of defense we’re playing?” said Co after the Cardinals trounced Emilio Aguinaldo College last week to clinch a playoff for the Final Four.
They intend to shut down wingman Jiovani Jalalon, who almost singlehandedly carried the Chiefs in their last two elimination-round games.
Jalalon scored 18 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter of that hard-earned victory over the EAC Generals after leading the Chiefs to a 19-point demolition of the defending champion San Beda Lions a week before.
“In any basketball game, the way you play defense will dictate the outcome of a game,” said Co.
Allwell Oraeme, the league’s leading MVP contender, has been Mapua’s source of strength on both ends with double-double figures in points and rebounds each game.
“We don’t want to end our season yet. We will fight for every possession and neutralize their strengths,” said Arellano coach Jerry Codinera.
The only thing settled in the Final Four so far is the ranking of Jose Rizal U, which took the No. 3 seat after beating San Sebastian at the end of eliminations.
The Heavy Bombers are tied with the No. 4 Cardinals and fifth-ranked Chiefs with 12-6 record but had a higher quotient to claim the third spot and avoid the playoff for the last and final seat in the semifinals.
After absorbing a harrowing defeat at the hands of the Lions, the Knights took the loss too hard that they vowed for revenge over the reigning champions before entering the Final Four.
Both teams are already armed with twice-to-beat incentives over their projected foes in the next phase after winding up with identical 13-5 records in the double-round eliminations.
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