Chiefs slay reigning champs Knights

ARELLANO University defeated defending champion Letran, 72-69,  in the National Collegiate Athletic Association seniors basketball tournament Sunday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

Cade Flores finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, Axel Doromal had 14 points and five rebounds and Wilmar Oftana chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and four blocks for the Chiefs.

Joshua Abastillas also played big for Arellano University with 10 points, eight he made in the payoff period to as the Chiefs rose from a 13-point hole.

Coach Cholo Martin said he will give the Chiefs a much-deserved two-day break after finishing the first full week of the season with a 3-1 won-lost record for second place.

“I’m a kind coach, if they tell me ‘let’s take a break, coach, then rest they will,” Martin said. “We’ll do some shooting, so shooting it will be.”

“But I asked them to study a game plan that I have for them,” he added.

Together with Shane Menina, who had a season-high 10 assists, Abastillas presided over the Chiefs’ fightback from a 42-55 deficit. They led, 69-60, heading into the final two minutes.

The Knights made a last-gasp rally behind King Caralipio, Mark Sangalang and Fran Yu and cut their deficit to 69-71 with 17.2 seconds remaining.

After Doromal went 1-of-2 from the foul line, Letran tried to turn things around, but Kurt Reyson’s three-pointer rimmed out.

Sangalang had 19 points and 16 rebounds) and Caralipio finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds for double-double efforts for the Knights, who saw their 14-game win streak dating back to November 2019 stopped.