Can AU Chiefs stop rampaging La Salle for Filoil title?
by rick olivares
Eight teams have tried. The question is, can the Arellano University Chiefs stop the De La Salle Green Archers’ eventual coronation as the champion of the 2016 Filoil Flying v Premier Cup this Sunday, June 12 at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan?
The Chiefs, who enter the finals with a 7-2 record, forged the showdown after sending National University packing, 94-85, behind a scintillating performance from its backcourt of Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Michael Salado. The dazzling duo accounted for 52 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, and four steals as they bettered the output of the Bulldogs’ duo of Alfred Aroga and Reggie Morido (42 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists) including fourth period scoring 16-8.
Now, they’ll see how they fare against the Green Archers’ juggernaut. La Salle is the last undefeated team in the tournament with a 9-0 record. They entered the finals with a 92-77 triumph over Ateneo.
Center Ben Mbala (21.9 points and 15.1 rebounds) and Jeron Teng (20.8 points) have led their onslaught. Head coach Aldin Ayo’s team is averaging 91.2 points per game in the competition, the highest in the tournament’s 10-year history. Thus far, they have bettered UE’s 87.4 points an outing set in 2007. Unfortunately, for the Red Warriors, they finished only third place.
La Salle are also the only team that shoots better than 50% from two-point range behind their power game inside the lane. That has also allowed them to shoot the most number of free throws with a total of 195; 67 more than the next best team that is Emilio Aguinaldo College. DLSU's pressure defense finds them swiping 7.7 balls, scoring 22.3 turnover points, and putting back 14.3 second chance buckets a game.
Arellano is no slouch though as they are either slightly above or a shade behind La Salle defensively. The Chiefs are seventh best in the league as they allow 73.1 points an outing (two fewer than DLSU). They are tops in blocks with 5.4 a game and are a shade behind La Salle in rebounds 44.9 to 44.4 and steals with 6.2 per match.
For Jerry Codinera’s Chiefs to have a fighting chance to taking the crown, he will need all hands on deck including center Dioncee Holts who has been under the weather the past three days. Holts didn’t play during the Fr. Martin’s Cup title match versus Adamson that they won and missed all five of his attempts in the semifinals match versus NU. Arellano’s backcourt trio of Jalalon, Salado, and Donald Gumaru can be a handful but they will need shooter Zach Nicholls to be on target (22% from three-point range), Lervin Flores to man the slot and stay foul free, and forwards Bylle Meca, Allen Enriquez, Kraniel Villoria, and Michael Canete to chip in.
“We want this,” said La Salle point guard Thomas Torres after the semifinals win over Ateneo. “We’ll take it. I want to win everything in my final playing year.”
“La Salle is probably the best college team in the country right now,” pronounced Codinera. “We will have our hands full and that’s the challenge."
Tip-off between Arellano and La Salle is at 4pm.
The battle for third place between Ateneo and NU is at 2pm while the Juniors Division matches will be played in the morning. The San Beda Red Cubs battle the tough Adamson Baby Falcons for the title at 11am while FEU and NU square off for third at 9am.
Tickets to the Finals of the 2016 Filoil Flying V Premier Cup can be purchased at the gate of the Filoil Flying V Centre or through Ticketnet.