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NU takes top seed in Group A with squeaker against Arellano

By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--Matthew Aquino delivered what would be the game-winning basket as NU turned back Arellano, 68-65, on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre to seal the number one spot in Group A entering the quarterfinals of the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup.

The son of PBA legend Marlou scored on a follow-up with 20.9 seconds to go while putting up a great team defense in the next play as the Bulldogs bucked a hot scoring from the returning Jio Jalalon to take the other top seed entering the knockout rounds.

Down, 55-59, with less than five minutes left in the game, NU went on an 8-0 run to go up, 63-59, with 2:34 remaining.

But Jalalon scored on a jumper while Dioncee Holts added four more to give Arellano the lead 65-63, with 34.3 seconds left.

Alfred Aroga got a chance to tie the game after he was fouled with 27 seconds remaining, but he only made the first of his two free throws. Aquino cleaned up the mess after getting the loose ball and sent the ball back in to put NU up, 66-65.

The Bulldogs' pressure defense forced Kent Salado to lose the ball to Reggie Morido, and Cederick Labing-isa made two more charities for the three-point lead with 5.2 seconds left.

Holts' desperation trey at the buzzer went offline.

Matt Salem made all of his 15 points from downtown while Chino Mosqueda added 11 for the Bulldogs, whose quarterfinal opponent will be known after the Adamson-UE game later Sunday.

Jalalon finished with 24 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals in his return from a gold medal conquest in the SEABA Stankovic Cup over a week ago but did not get ample support as the Chiefs slipped to the third seed and will take on the San Beda Red Lions, who beat old rivals Ateneo Blue Eagles in the preceding match, in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

Box Scores:

NU 68-Salem 15, Mosqueda 11, Aroga 7, Abatayo 6, Labing-isa 6, Aquino 6, Gallego 6, Diputado 4, Salim 4, Morido 2, Yu 0, Lastimosa 0, Go 0

Arellano 65-Jalalon 24, Holts 9, CaƱete 6, Flores 5, Villoria 5, Gumaru 4, Nicholls 2, Cadavis 2, Enriquez 2, Gupilan 2, Aguilas 2, Alcoriza 2, Salado 0, Meca 0, Rivera 0, Ongolo 0

Quarterscores: 11-18, 28-29, 48-48, 68-65

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno