The Bleachers


Arellano big man Justin Arana led the race for the Most Valuable Player in the NCAA Season 97 Men’s Basketball Tournament after the single-round elimination.

/ 1 May 2022

The 6-foot-5 center posted 15.5 points, 17.1 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, and 1.5 assists per game, both league-best as he attempts to become the first Arellano player to win the MVP trophy.

But, Arana and the Chiefs need to defeat Perpetual on Sunday and down the loser between San Beda and Benilde two days later for the fourth and final playoff berth or his effort will be all for naught.

If Arellano misses the spot in the play-in the title will be more open between Letran teammates Rhenz Abando and Jeo Ambohot.

Abando, who just recently transferred from UST, is close to capturing the Rookie of the Year honors, tallying a league third-best 15.11 points, 6.67 boards, 1.89 assists, and seventh-best 1.44 blocks.

Ambohot is not far behind, averaging 10.56 points, a fifth-best 9.78 rebounds, a sixth-best 1.56 blocks, and 1.11 dimes.

Also making their case for the NCAA MVP award are St. Benilde’s Will Gozum, San Sebastian’s JM Calma, and San Beda’s James Kwekuteye.

Gozum netted 13.89 points (ninth-best in the league), 10.78 boards (third-best), 1.67 blocks (tied for fourth-best), 1.11 assists, and 1.11 steals, while Calma accumulated 16.89 points, 10.33 rebounds (fourth-best), 1.22 assists, and 1.0 rejection.

Meanwhile, Kwekuteye was also instrumental for the Red Lions with 14.0 points (eighth-best in the league), 6.0 boards, 1.67 steals (fifth-best), and 1.11 assists.

Completing the top scorers are Perpetual’s Jielo Razon with 14.89 points and Jose Rizal University’s Jason Celis with 14.56 points.

Letran’s Louie Sangalang led in the best field goal shooting with 62-percent of his shots, Ambohot is at second with 59.02-percent, Lyceum’s Omar Larupay is at third with 55.38-percent, Arana at fourth with 54.44-percent, and Mapua’s Adrian Nocum with 45.57-percent.

Arellano’s Kobe Caballero topped the three-point shooting with 47.37-percent, trailed by Emilio Aguinaldo College’s Ralph Robin (40.68-percent), Lyceum’s Renzo Navarro (37.74-percent), Letran’s Brent Paraiso (37.14-percent), and the Mapua pair of Toby Agustin and Brian Lacap (36.59-percent).

EAC’s Nat Cosejo with his 10.83 boards is second best after Arana, followed by Gozum, Calma, and Ambohot.

Navarro finished as the league’s best playmaker with 4.67 assists, followed by EAC’s Marwin Taywan (4.44 assists), Letran’s Fran Yu (4.11 assists), JRU’s JL delos Santos (3.78 assists, and a tie between Razon and St. Benilde’s JC Cullar (3.33 assists each).

Arellano’s Axel Doromal ended with the highest steals with 2.11 steals per game, followed by Razon, Lyceum’s Vincent Cunanan and Enoch Valdez, all of whom had 1.78 steals, and Kwekuteye’s 1.67 steals.

Joining Arana in the block party top five are Larupay (2.0 blocks), Sangalang (1.88 blocks), Gozum and EAC’s Allen Liwag (1.67 blocks).

Arana, however, also finished with the most turnovers with 4.13 errors per outing, followed by Delos Santos (3.56 turnovers), Navarro (3.33 turnovers), Perpetual’s Kim Aurin (3.22 turnovers), and Valdez (3.11 turnovers).