NCAA: Joshua Abastillas gives Arellano big lift in upset of Letran
MANILA, Philippines—With virtually no pure center in its lineup, Arellano got a much-needed lift from wing player Joshua Abastillas to topple Letran on Sunday.
The lanky Abastillas held his own against the Knights’ rugged frontline, helping the Chiefs notch their third win in four games in the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball tournament.
“I expected a physical game because Pao (Javillonar) and Louie (Sangalang) are really physical. I tried to fight even if I’m thin because I need to prove to the team that I belong inside the playing court,” Abastillas said after Arellano’s 72-69 comeback victory.
Abastillas, a former recruit by the Knights, tallied 10 points and three rebounds on an efficient 57.1 percent shooting clip, sparking the Chiefs’ rally from a double-digit deficit in the fourth period.
He credited veteran point guard Shane Menina, who finished with a game-high 10 assists, for his performance.
“We’re blessed to have Shane. He’s a good playmaker. Even against the tight defense he can find me for a basket and I appreciate that.”
It was not easy for Arellano head coach Cholo Martin to sway Abastillas back in the Chiefs’ lineup, especially since he was slated to play commercially.
Martin said he promised Abastillas more opportunities this season and so far, the 23-year-old has made the most of it.
“I promised him he will have playing time because there is no other big man, just him. Aside from Cade (Flores), it’s just him,” Martin said.
“Thankfully, his blending with the team is good,” he added.
The Chiefs (3-1) aim to continue their winning ways against the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers (1-2) on Wednesday.
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