AN Arellano University team playing without its star player in Kent Salado is a possibility when it takes on Perpetual Help today 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 and tied at fourth in steals with 1.3, will be 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.
It is not yet known at press time the extent of Salado’s injury, 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.”
AU, currently with a 7-9 record, is in dire need of a win as such would 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 Tuesday.
Salado has been the doing almost everything for AU as it leads the league in points (19) and assists (5) and tied for No. 4 in steals (1.3).
When he went down, AU 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 would need to sweep their last two games, including against Perpetual Help on Oct. 17 and hope of pray no fourth team gets into the nine-win plateau.
Lyceum of the Philippines University (16-0), San Beda (15-1) and Jose Rizal (11-6) have already clinched the first three slots in the playoff round.
Games today (Filoil Arena, San Juan)
12 nn.- AU vs UPHSD (jrs)
2 p.m.- AU vs UPHSD (srs)
4 p.m.- CSB vs EAC (srs)
6 p.m.- CSB vs EAC (srs)