Justin Arana showed the way in the second half as Arellano rediscovered its winning ways and defeated Mapua, 72-63, in the NCAA Season 97 on Sunday, April 10 at the La Salle Green Hills Gym in Mandaluyong.
Arana carried the Chiefs on his back in the payoff period where they finally shook off the stubborn Cardinals side to finally arrest their three-game slide.
Arellano also managed to catch Emilio Aguinaldo College and Perpetual Help in the middle of the standings with identical 2-3 records halfway through the eliminations.
Arana delivered his best outing since suffering from a knee sprain in their first game with a double-double of 17 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. Jordan Sta. Ana and Art Oliva backstopped him with 15 and 10 markers, respectively.
He played in the last two losses of the Chiefs, the latest an 87-70 drubbing at the hands of Perpetual, although he was obviously bothered by the knee injury.
“Galing kami sa tatlong sunod na talo, pinagtrabahuan lang namin and yun nakuha namin ‘yung panalo, sobrang saya talaga nitong araw na ito,” said Arana who was seen smiling several times in the game despite the pressure-packed game.
“Mindset ko yung depensa talaga kailangan kasi nga medyo pisikal yung mga kalaban ako talaga yung mag-lilead sa depensa buti na lang talaga nagkaisa yung buong team namin nag-contribute talaga,” he added.
The Chief held a comfortable 58-48 lead in the early goings of the fourth quarter but the Cardinals embarked to a 12-4 uprising behind the efforts from Jeric Pido, Toby Agustin and Rhenz Nocum to cut the lead down to just two 62-60.
Sta. Ana answered back with a layup before Arana followed suit with six straight points, the last one where he split through two Mapua defenders to rebuild a 70-60 cushion with 1:13 left in the game.
Warren Bonifacio was the lone bright spot with 11 points and 10 rebounds as no other player scored in double figures for the Cardinals who absorbed their second straight loss after a 3-0 start to their Season 97 campaign.
Arellano had a blistering start to the game after building the first double digit spread in the opening frame at 23-13.
Mapua battled back with a 15-5 counter to tie the game 28-all but Arellano used a 10-2 spurt to retake the lead which it never relinquished the rest of the way.
Arellano 72 – Arana 17, Sta. Ana 15, Olivia 10, Doromal 9, Carandang 6, Sablan 4,Uri 4, Caballero 3, Cruz 2, Dela Cruz 2, Valencia 0
Mapua 63 – Bonifacio 11, Pido 9, Nocum 9, Garcia 8, Agustin 7, Gamboa 7, Hernandez 7, Lacap 5, Mercado 0, Asuncion 0, sual 0, Salenga 0, Milan 0
Quarters: 23-19, 41-35, 56-48, 72-63
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