MANILA, Philippines – Maui Sera-Josef buried a 3-pointer while being fouled with 14.9 seconds left to give Arellano University its first lead of the game. The shot, along with the succeeding free throws by teammate Richard Abanes, propelled the Chiefs to a pulsating 76-74 win over hard-luck Jose Rizal University.
The JRU Heavy Bombers led for much of the game. Entering the final two minutes, they were up, 74-62, after a lay-up by Justin Padua off a brilliant no-look assist by MJ Dela Virgen.
With time against him, Arellano coach Jerry Codinera opted to go small in order to generate faster offense. The gambit worked as Archie Concepcion scored on a pair of three-point plays before Sera-Josef’s big shot.
Abanes hit two of three free throws for the final points, but JRU had one chance to either tie the match or win it all. However, Karl Bordon’s late 3-point attempt was just a shade short, and the ball bounced off the rim as time elapsed.
“Whatever it takes,” noted a relieved Codinera when asked about his Chiefs resorting more to the long ball than an inside game. “Kung ano ibigay.”
The win gave Arellano a 3-3 slate in Group B while JRU, which got a huge game from Jed Mendoza (15 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists), fell to 0-8.
Guilmer Dela Torre led AU with 15 points while Fil-American rookie Sera-Josef finished with 14.
Arellano wasn’t the only team to win by the skin of their teeth.
In high school cage action, the young San Beda Red Cubs faced a huge test and passed it with a pulsating 80-79 win over NCAA defending champion La Salle Greenhills.
The Red Cubs looked to blow out LSGH when they led by 24 points at one point, 31-7, early in the first period. But the Greenies methodically worked their way back behind their wondrous guard, Joel Cagulangan.
With two minutes to play, San Beda led by 10 points, 80-70, but Cagulangan continued to work his magic.
Cagulangan scored seven points and assisted Inand Fornillos for a lay-up to slice the lead to one, 80-79, as the Red Cubs fell apart in a maze of errors. He had a chance to pull out a winner but his desperation trey was way off.
“I was actually expecting us to fall apart,” said San Beda head coach JB Sison. “That is because of our lack of maturity. Instead of taking care of the ball lalong nagmadali yung mga bata. But I hope this will be a learning experience. Big win pa rin to for the program.”
Rhayyan Amsali, who transferred from NU to San Beda, led his new team with 19 points and eight rebounds. Kai Oliva and Anfernee Estacio both chipped in 15 points for LSGH, Inand Fornillos also scored 19 markers.
Cagulangan finished with 13 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists.
SBC is at 1-1 in the Juniors Division while LSGH lost its first assignment of the tournament.