Arellano survives Lyceum’s second half surge for first win

MANILA, Philippines – Despite the courageous second half rally of the Lyceum Pirates, the Arellano Chiefs managed to walk out with a 80-78 victory on Friday, July 3 at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

The missed attempts of Joseph Gabayni and Mer Ayaay in the fourth quarter’s dying seconds gave the Legarda-based dribblers their first win in the ongoing NCAA elimination round after bowing down to the JRU heavy bombers last Saturday.

After trailing by 17 points at the end of the first half, Topex Robinson’s dirty dozen showed signs of life in the third period, where Gabayani and Shaq Alanes spearheaded the attack that shrunk the Arellano lead to 11, 52-41.

Although Jiavoni Jalalon and Julius Cadavis shifted back the momentum on their side and elevated the Chiefs’ edge as high as 16 points, it did not deter Ayaay and Guy Mbbida to drop down the deficit by 12, 65-53.

Alanes trimmed down Arellano’s comfortable cushion by a single digit at the conclusion of the third canto courtesy of his three-pointer and inside-the-paint shot, 68-59.

Both Gabayani and Ayaay converted five points to put Lyceum within striking distance in the fourth quarter, while Alanes nailed a pivotal beyond-the-arc shot, 70-64.

Arellano gunslinger Zachary Nicholls, who is five out of 12 in the three-point area, made it double-digit advantage again for the Gerry Codiñera-mentored brigade, 78-66.

In addition, reinforcement Dionce Holts made his presence felt, outmuscling Gabayani in the shaded lane and scoring four points.

Ayaay cut Arellano’s lead back to six points before Alanes’ fastbreak layup withered it to four.

With 28.3 seconds left, a silver-tongued pass from Ayaay to Gabayni positioned Lyceum within two points.

With hopes of sending the game into overtime, Ayaay throttled to the basket but failed to convert, prompting Gabayni to leap for the ball and try for a put-back that bounced off the rim.

Even though Lyceum yielded to Arellano, Gabayni finished with 20 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks.

Meanwhile, his colleague Alanes registered 20 markers with 3 boards, one assist and one block.

On the other hand, Jalalon led last season’s first runner-up finishers with 20 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds. -