Arellano silences JRU, books NCAA Finals showdown with San Beda
MANILA, Philippines – And the NCAA Finals are set.
Booking a Finals showdown against defending champions San Beda Red Lions, the Arellano University Chiefs smashed the totem pole against the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 72-65, at the NCAA Final Four at the Mall of Asia Arena Wednesday.
Arellano used a 10-2 raid to close out the match after falling behind 62-63 with Jiovani Jalalon hitting an off the glass floater with 23.5 seconds left.
Chiefs head coach Jerry Codiñera, a rookie head coach for Arellano, and his crew would have to sharpen their axes for their Finals matchup against Red Lions head coach Boyet Fernandez whose team is vying for a fifth straight title.
“It’s a dream come true for the entire Arellano community,” Codiñera said.
Despite his historic achievement, bringing the Chiefs to the NCAA semifinal and finals for the first time since their inclusion in 2009, Codiñera said they savor every victory even in the eliminations.
“We always savor the wins, every time we win, it’s a piece of history,” Codiñera said. “I didn’t know that we would get this far.”
Up 59-53, Arellano were at the mercy of JRU guard Jaycee Asuncion who went on a personal 10-3 that put the Heavy Bombers up 63-62.
Codiñera said that reaching the Finals stage would require the right chemistry between the coaches, players and the management.
“The coaches alone can’t win it, the players alone can’t win it, but if we have good chemistry together and with the support of the management, we can make it,” Codiñera said.
He added that facing the defending champions did not bring any pressure to them but admitted that the Red Lions were one team not to be reckoned with.
“San Beda is just great, you take the lead against them they come back,” Codiñera said. “They may be good, but we will fight all the way.”
Chiefs big man Dioncee Holts paced Arellano with a nifty double-double of 22 points and 11 boards while only resting for only a single minute.
Swingman Levi Hernandez chipped in 12 points for the Chiefs.
Teytey Teodoro led JRU with 19 points with Asuncion contributing 13 and Michael Mabulac put in 13 points and 12 boards.