Star playmaker Jiovani Jalalon took charge in the stretch anew as Arellano U repeated over Jose Rizal U, 79-68, on Tuesday and firm up its grip on the top spot in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
With the Heavy Bombers threatening within five off Paolo Pontejos’ six straight points, capped by a completed three-point play, with 2:22 to left, the 5-foot-10 Jalalon put matters into his own hands and, as expected, delivered anew as the Chiefs went on a quick 10-4 closeout.
“Maganda ang focus nila from start to end,” beamed Arellano U coach Jerry Codiñera, pleased with the Chiefs’ latest performance that kept them on top with a 13-3 record. “Mayroon silang rally, pero sabi ko just hang in there and tyagain nila.”
Kent Salado sizzled with a team-high 22 points on a scintillating 10-of-13 shooting from the field but it was Jalalon who shone the brightest in the stretch, tallying seven of his 18 markers while keeping the Chiefs on the same page in the face of the Heavy Bombers’ last-ditch rally.
Veteran guard Paolo Pontejos led all scorers with 24 points, 11 of them coming in the final frame, but JRU suffered yet another big blow on its semifinals bid, dropping its eighth loss in 17 matches.
ARELLANO (79) – Salado 22, Jalalon 18, Gumaru 11, Flores 7, Enriquez 6, Nicholls 6, Aguilar 3, Holts 2, Cadavis 2, Canete 2, Meca 0, Villoria 0
JRU (68) – Pontejos 24, Dela Paz 15, Poutouochi 14, Teodoro 10, Grospe 2, Cruz 2, Lasquety 1, Dela Virgen 0, Salaveria 0, Mendoza 0, Astilla 0
Quarterscores: 24-17, 41-34, 59-50, 79-68.