Arellano University knocked down the Mapua Cardinals, 59-57, in a closely-fought game in Season 88 action of the NCAA at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
John Pinto, a proud Davaoeño and a product of Holy Cross, once again made things happen for the Chiefs as his jumper from the elbow served as the game-winning shot for the Legarda-based quintet with 2.7 seconds remaining.
The Chiefs forced a tie at the 6th and 7th spots with the Cardinals as they now carry similar 5-8 win-loss records. Arellano was also able to avenge their 68-49 loss to Mapua three weeks ago.
With 20.3 ticks left, Josan Nimes sank a floater that tied the game at 57-all. Mapua’s vaunted defense almost held until Pinto escaped his defender and banged one in from 17 feet.
“Yung play na yun wala nang ibang pupuntahan and pag ganun, kasi siya lagi nagbubukas ng pinto ng panalo para sa amin kaya siya pinuntahan namin sa endgame,” said Arellano coach Koy Banal on his guard John Pinto.
Mapua opened the game with an 8-0 start with all of the points coming from rookie Joseph Eriobu. But Filipino-Canadian James Forrester took charge for the Chiefs in the second to overtake the Cardinals by the halftime break.
Arellano stayed in control in the third thanks to the play of Rocky Acidre. But the Cardinals worked their way back in the fourth, and Kenneth Ighalo sank a nothing-but-net triple at the 3:17 mark that tied the game at 52-all.
Nimes sank two floaters down the stretch that tied that game at 55- and 57-all but Pinto made the game-winning bucket with 2.7 seconds left to nip the Cardinals.
“Based sa score, obvious na nag-focus kami sa depensa. We were able to contain their other scorers especially Jonathan (Banal). I’m happy we were able to execute our game plan on both ends and buti nakabalik si James and Rocky,” added the Arellano mentor.
Forrester led all scorers with 19 while Acidre added 13. Josan Nimes and Mike Parala combined for 30 points for Mapua in the loss.
Arellano (59) — Forrester 19, Acidre 13, Bangga 9, Pinto 8, Hernandez 5, Caperal 3, Zulueta 2, Cadavis 0, Salcedo 0.
Mapua (57) — Nimes 17, Parala 13, Eriobu 8, Ighalo 7, G.Banal 5, Saitanan 5, J. Banal 2, Stevens 0, Cantos 0, Brana 0, Estrella 0.
Quarterscores: 13-15, 28-26, 43-38, 59-57.