Chiefs, Altas fan slim play-in hopes
Justin Arana is having a fantastic season for the Arellano Chiefs, one that could obtain a Most Valuable Player (MVP) consideration going into the final stretch of Season 97 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
And with their season on the line, Arana again showed his value to lift the Chiefs streaking past the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 70-55, on Sunday that created a four-way tie for fifth spot to muddle up the play-in scenario at La Salle Greenhills gym.
“If it happens, I think the MVP will just be a bonus. I’m focused on getting to the Final Four with my teammates,’’ said Arana after being told that he’s now ahead in the race for the most outstanding performer of the season.
Letran’s super athletic wingman Rhenz Abando and rim protector Jeo Ambohot are likewise the top contenders for the top individual accolade.
“I don’t want to think about it. I’m more concerned about our survival and how to get into the play-in,’’ said Arana, whose monstrous output of 21 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks proved too difficult for the Generals to overcome.
The Chiefs’ third win in eight games, however, forced a tie among the Generals, the San Sebastian Stags and the Perpetual Altas at fifth place.
Only two from among those teams will advance to the play-in depending on the outcome of their final games.
Jelo Sablan contributed 12 points and seven boards to the cause of the Altas, who pulled away early with a 20-point advantage in the second quarter and never looked back.
Through the heroics of Kim Aurin and Jielo Razon, the Altas were able to creep into that fifth place tie after a 72-69 escape act over Lyceum in the other game.
“We really hate losing, so we don’t want to waste the opportunity that we have,’’ said Aurin, who keyed a blazing finishing kick along with Razon. INQ
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