PAMPANGUENO discovery Jerald Lapuz scored an impressive all-around performance for Arellano University after dishing out 29 points and 10 rebounds to outlast Letran College, 78-76, in the 86th NCAA men's basketball tournament Friday.
The Chiefs capped their first round campaign in the oldest collegiate league in the country toting a 3-5 (win-loss) card while the Knights dropped to 2-5.
"We are very happy with this win as it gives us confidence going into the second round. Parang napaniwala namin ang mga sarili namin na we can beat other teams and deliver four quarters of competitive basketball," said coach Leo Isaac.
Letran held a 12-point lead at the end of the first quarter but Arellano banked on solid efforts from Lapuz, Andrian Celada and Cagayan de Oro standout John Tayungtong to dispose of Letran.
Franz Dysam pumped in 19 markers on a six-of-nine shooting to pace the Knights while Kevin Alas added 13 points, who only converted a trey in seven attempts.
In the other contest, Jose Rizal University went steadier down the stretch to defeat pesky Emilio Aguinaldo College in overtime, 74-70.
The Heavy Bombers survived a near shutout from the Generals after unleashing a full court press during the extended five-minute playing time.
Raycon Kabigting topscored for the Mandaluyong-based squad with 14 points, including perfect charities and a crucial triple in overtime while Alex Almario added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"Nakakafrustrate talaga ang larong ito. I don't know what's wrong with them. Habang tumatagal, lalong lumalala. Buti na lang ginamitan namin ng full court press at doon kami nakabawi" disappointed mentor Vergel Meneses told reporters.
JRU improved to 5-2 (win-loss) while the EAC shared the sixth spot with Letran at 2-5.
Meantime, Letran walloped Arellano U, 79-67, and Jose Rizal dumped EAC, 77-67, to improve their records.
Mark Cruz erupted for 27 points as the Squires listed their fourth straight win against three losses while Cris dela Paz likewise exploded for 27 to power the Light Bombers to their fifth win in seven outings for joint second with the idle Perpetual Help Altalettes.
As this developed, the NCAA management committee announced that they would be selling separate tickets for Wednesday's blockbuster games featuring defending champion San Sebastian and last year's finalist San Beda and powerhouse teams Jose Rizal and Mapua.
The Jose Rizal-Mapua contest will play starting at 8:30 a.m. for the juniors and 10 a.m. for the seniors' team while San Sebastian and San Beda will collide at 2 p.m. for the high school and 4 p.m. for the college squad.
Mancom chair Frank Gusi said this was done to accommodate a flurry of fans expected to pack the venue since the Stags and the Lions remained unbeaten in seven starts.
Rival league University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) started the trick last year when it sold a separate ticket for the storied Ateneo-La Salle rivalry.
The same rule was applied to the squads' first meeting last July 24 when the host Green Archers snapped a two-year losing skid to the Blue Eagles.
The first round of eliminations of the 86th NCAA men's basketball tournament will end on August 18. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)
Arellano U (78)- Lapuz 29, Celada 15, Tayongtong 13, Zulueta 9, Ciriacruz 4, Acidre 3, Caperal 3, del Rosario 2, Casino 0, Advincula 0.
Letran (76)- Dysam 19, Ke. Alas 13, Belorio 12, Cortes 9, Belencion 8, Kr. Alas 7, Espiritu 5, Taplah 3, Pantin 0, Almazan 0.
Quarters: 19-31, 45-38, 62-58, 78-76.
Jose Rizal (74) - Kabigting 14, Almario 10, Hayes 10, Matute 9, Bulangis 9, Njei 7, Montemayor 5, Etame 4, Apinan 4, Lopez 2.
EAC (70) - Vargas 24, Cubo 16, Mendoza 9, Santos 8, Lapitan 5, Villegas 2, Tuazon 2, R. Yaya 2, Chiong 2, Jamon 0, L. Yaya 0, Diolanto 0.
Quarters: 20-17, 34-30, 43-43, 57-57 (regulation), 74-70.