PINT-SIZED Jiovani Jalalon made the big plays and finished with a game-high 31 points to lead Arellano University past San Sebastian College, 99-81, and into its second win Friday in the 92nd National Collegiate Athletics Association men’s basketball tournament at the Arena in San Juan.
The win had the Chiefs climbing into a share of the lead with defending champion San Beda Red Lions and the Mapua Cardinals, who defeated the College of St. Benilde Blazers, 78-68, last Tuesday.
In the second game, defending champion Letran College squandered an 18-point lead but still had enough cushion to turn back the CSB Blazers, 56-52.
The Knights leaned on timely baskets from Felix Apreku and JP Calvo en route to their second win in three outings.
The 5’7” Jalalon exploded early, turning in 10 points right in the first quarter as the Chiefs stormed to an early 18-6 spread with 3:12 left to go heading into the second quarter.
The Stags tried to move closer behind Ryan Costelo, who banged in 11 of 15 points in the second period to stay within range at halftime, 39-46, but Arellano’s Kent Salado, who had 17, stepped up and joined forces with Jalalon in the third period, even as the Chiefs’ pressure defense forced the Stags into a spate of turnovers.
The Chiefs built a big lead, 71-55, on a floater from Julius Cadavis and padded it to a huge 95-77 spread on a basket from Salado.
“It just happened. San Sebastian was within striking distance. Nagiging shootout nu’ng una. We can’t find a good chemistry in the backcourt, and on our pressure defense. But we did when we brought Salado together with Jalalon,” said Chiefs coach Jerry Codnera.
(San Juan Arena)
9 a.m. SSC vs Mapua (jrs)
10:45 p.m. EAC vs San Beda (jrs)
12:30 p.m. Arellano vs JRU (srs)
2:15 p.m. UPHSD vs CSB (srs)
4 p.m. Lyceum vs Letran (srs)