By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE struggling Arellano Chiefs return to National Collegiate Athletic Association action today but without their long-time bench tactician after head coach Jerry Codiñera stepped down from his post on Thursday.
To take on the College of St. Benilde Blazers at 2 p.m. at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City, the Chiefs begin life sans Mr. Codiñera, who was at the helm of the Legarda-based men’s basketball team for five years.
Mr. Codiñera reportedly made the announcement at morning practice yesterday, after which Junjie Ablan was named as interim coach.
Currently at sixth place in Season 94 with a 4-7 record, Arellano has lost its last two games, the latest on Sept. 18 against the Perpetual Help Altas, 57-45, where the team struggled mightily and just could not get its game going.
In five years of handling Arellano, Mr. Codiñera compiled a 52-31 record (.626) and led the team to finals appearances in Season 90 and 92, losing both times to the San Beda Red Lions.
Under his guidance, players like Jio Jalalon, Lervin Flores and Kent Salado made names for themselves in the country’s longest-standing collegiate league.
Waiting for the Chiefs (7-5) today are the Blazers, who have lost back-to-back and are angling to return to winning.
After winning six of its first nine games, St. Benilde has since gone 1-2 in their last three that has effectively derailed its bid to fortify its hold of a top four spot.
The Blazers tried to avoid losing back-to-back on Sept. 18 against the Mapua Cardinals but just could not get a break in the end to fall 86-83.
Justin Gutang led St. Benilde with 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists in said game while James Pasturan had 16 and Clement Letcheu finishing with 15 points and seven boards.
Unique Naboa and Rob Nayve each wound up with 10 points for the Blazers.
Meanwhile, opening the NCAA triple-header today are the Letran Knights (7-4) against Mapua (4-8) at 12 noon while the league-leading Lyceum Pirates (12-0) take on Season 94 host Perpetual (6-5) at 4 p.m.