Arellano U tries to stay in the hunt for NCAA Final 4, faces Perpetual

Arellano University takes on Perpetual Help Thursday with the possibility of playing minus ace playmaker Kent Salado in a crucial match that could make or break its Final Four bid in the 93rd NCAA basketball tournament at the Filoil Arena in San Juan City.

Salado, who leads the league in scoring and assists with 19 points and five assists per contest is doubtful in the Chiefs’ 2 p.m. showdown with the Altas after hurting his right leg in an 85-79 win over the San Sebastian Stags Tuesday.

The extent of Salado’s injury has yet to be determined as of posting time, but there is a chance it could be a hyperextended leg.

“I hope he (Salado) plays but he’s 50-50 for now,” said AU coach Jerry Codinera. “But if he can’t play, we just have to be ready.”

Arellano, currently with a 7-9 record, is in dire need of a win which could push it half a game closer to No. 4 Letran (8-8).

“We have no choice but to win, that’s the only way to make it to the Final Four,” said Codinera, whose team takes on Mapua next Tuesday.

Salado has been the doing almost everything for the Chiefs as he leads the league in points (19) and assists (5) and tied for No. 4 in steals (1.3).

When he went down, Arellano drew strength from unlikely heroes in Levi dela Cruz and Richard Abanes, who came through to lead their team to victory.

Emilio Aguinaldo, for its part, which currently owns a 6-10 card, aims to pump some life into its dying Final Four hopes as it tackles St. Benilde (3-13) at 4 p.m.

The Generals need to sweep their last two games including the match against Perpetual Help on Oct. 17 and hope no other team gets into the nine-win plateau.

Lyceum of the Phl U (16-0), San Beda (15-1) and Jose Rizal (11-6) have already clinched the first three slots in the playoff round.