Strategy shift carries Chiefs past Knights
Arellano was in the midst of trying to solve Letran’s offense on Sunday when point guard Shane Menina came up with a brilliant idea.
“He (Menina) suggested that we shift to a zone [defense],’’ said Arellano coach Cholo Martin after the Chiefs’ 72-69 victory over the defending champion Knights in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at San Juan Arena that snapped a 14 game streak by Letran dating back before the pandemic.
Using Menina’s suggestion, the Chiefs slowly nibbled away at an 11-point Letran lead before the Chiefs uncorked their own dazzling run anchored on the exploits of the veteran guard.
For the Chiefs, it really pays to have somebody like Menina who could double as a coach and steady them in intricate scenarios.
“I just wanted to win and it feels good to get it against a champion team such as Letran,’’ said Menina, whose seasoned judgment can be traced back when the shifty guard first played college ball during the 2016 season for Mapua.
With their second straight win, the Chiefs inflicted the first defeat on the back-to-back champion Knights since Game 2 of the 2019 season Finals against San Beda while notching their third win in four games.
Rommel Calahat had 17 points and 17 rebounds in the other match as San Sebastian escaped with a 57-56 squeaker over Mapua to secure its second win in three games.
The Cardinals had the opportunity to win it, but Juaqui Garcia saw his triple try hit the front end of the rim before the Stags’ Raymart Escobido grabbed the rebound and melt the clock. The Cardinals dropped their second game in three outings.
“Going up against a champion really motivated us to focus more and play our best. These kinds of games help us grow and improve as a team,’’ said Martin.
Filipino-Aussie Cade Flores, whose energy remained consistent from start to finish, and Axel Doromal, who fought it out despite hurting his eye, were also keys to the win. INQ