Arellano’s Dela Cruz comes out of nowhere to mow down CSB

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 25, 2017 03:48 PM
Arellano’s Dela Cruz comes out of nowhere to mow down CSB
NICE TO KNOW YOU. Levi Dela Cruz played big with Kent Salado and the rest of Arellano struggling.

In trying to put a stop to Arellano University’s struggles in the NCAA 93 Men’s Basketball Tournament, head coach Jerry Codinera has tried it all.

Something finally worked on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre as Levi Dela Cruz fired half of his 24 points in the final frame to steer the Chiefs to a much-needed 87-81 triumph over luckless College of St. Benilde.

The Blazers got just the start they wanted and mounted a 16-point lead, 39-23, in the second quarter on the broad shoulders of Clement Leutcheu.

Making matters worse for Arellano, Kent Salado wasn’t himself and only totaled nine point, four rebounds, three assists, and three turnovers.

Come the fourth quarter, however, Dela Cruz shocked just about everybody and imposed his will on every aspect of the game. “Na-surprise ako sa performance niya,” head coach Jerry Codinera said, nothing but satisfied.

Down by six, 63-69, inside the last eight minutes, the first-year pointman scored 11 points in the Chiefs’ 15-2 rally that all of a sudden pushed them ahead, 78-71.

Edward Dixon and Gerard Castor went back-to-back to pull the Blazers back to within 75-78 only to see Dela Cruz, Marwin Taywan, and Kent Salado go for five unanswered points to put the game away once and for all.

In the end, Dela Cruz made good on 69 percent of his shots in what was, without a doubt, his breakout game. “Sana maging consistent pa ‘to,” the head coach said.

Lervin Flores also posted a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double to help Arellano improve to 3-5. “Masayang-masaya kami rito siyempre. Paggising ko pa lang kanina, maganda na pakiramdam kong mananalo kami,” Codinera said.

Up next for them is a rematch of last year’s Finals against San Beda College on Tuesday at the same venue.

For CSB, Leutcheu led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Unable to sustain their strong start in the game, they finish the first round at 2-7.

BOX SCORES

ARELLANO 87 - Dela Cruz 24, Flores 14, Salado 9, Alcoriza 8, Enriquez 7, Nicholls 7, Concepcion 6, Cañete 4, Meca 4, Taywan 4, Filart 0, Ongolo Ongolo 0, Padilla 0, Viloria 0.

CSB 81 - Leutcheu 21, Dixon 14, Domingo 10, Sta. Maria 10, Naboa 9, Castor 8, Pili 6, San Juan 3, Young 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 19-20, 35-47, 58-62, 87-81.

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