NU blasts Arellano, draws closer to preseason tourney title

Ivan Saldajeno (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--A night after almost squandering a huge lead, NU once again blew a wide margin on Friday night against Arellano in their Philippines-Australia Goodwill Basketball Invitational match.

The differences from Thursday's near fall against Ateneo: NU nearly lost its advantage earlier, but the team rebuilt it and even made it larger.

The Bulldogs got more time to keep their composure and even dealt the Chiefs a worse beat, 73-53, at the FilOil Flying V Arena to close in on the championship of the said preseason tournament.

NU built a 40-24 advantage early in the third quarter behind the hot hands of JJay Alejandro.

But led by Jio Jalalon, Arellano opened a 14-2 run to cut the lead to just four, 42-38, later in the period.

The Bulldogs then unleashed a 19-3 run in a nine-minute span in the second half to pull away for good. They even extended their lead to 22 before settling for the 20-point final margin.

Alejandro scored 13 of his 19 points in the first half, while a team effort pushed NU in the second half. Alfred Aroga added ten points, 15 rebounds, five assists, and a steal.

Jalalon finished with 14 points, nine in the second half, along with four assists and a steal for Arellano, which despite the loss can still clinch the title in the invitational tourney that does not have a playoff format.

Arellano, however, must beat San Sebastian at the same venue on Saturday and hope NU will lose to Perth on the same day.

NU, on the other hand, can clinch the championship if it beats Perth and Arellano wins as well.

San Sebastian can snatch the title away with a win against Arellano regardless of the NU-Perth result. San Sebastian holds the tiebreaker against NU by virtue of its 57-56 win on Tuesday.

Box Scores:

NU 73-Alejandro 19, Aroga 10, Alolino 9, Diputado 9, Javillonar 7, Issa 6, Celda 3, Javelona 2, Rangel 2, Morido 2, Salim 2, Abatayo 0, Lastimosa 0, Senining 0, Tansingco 0

Arellano 53-Jalalon 14, Holts 13, Celado 10, Bangga 8, Meca 4, Nichols 4, Cadavis 0, Gumaru 0, Ongolo 0, Ortega 0, Packing 0, Ruiz 0, Suarez 0, Tano 0, Taywan 0, Zamora 0

Quarterscores: 15-9, 38-24, 49-38, 73-53