UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help added to the misery of Mapua following a 73-65 victory on Saturday that extended the Cardinals’ skid in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
After encountering stiff resistance in the first half from an opponent that’s aching to end a long slump, the Altas shifted to higher gear in the next two quarters, allowing them to slowly pulled away and sustain a comfortable cushion on the way to an 11th win in 14 games.
The Altas also firmed up their hold of third place behind leaders San Beda and Letran, while dealing the Cardinals their 11th straight loss and 12th overall with just one win.
"Hindi pa rin kami bumibitaw. Sa last quarter na talaga kami lumamang," Altas coach Aric del Rosario said.
Hardly affected by circulating rumors that he’s overaged, Juneric Baloria showed why he is the league’s top Rookie of the Year candidate, topscoring for the Las Piñas-based dribblers with 18 points in leading four Altas in double figures.
Baloria added three blocks and three steals.
Three Altas registered double-double efforts, with Harold Arboleda tallying 17 points and 12 boards, Justine Alano with 12 points, and 10 rebounds, and Nicholas Omorogbe coming up with 11 rebounds, 10 assists.
Earl Thompson also put up a solid, all-around outing with 13 points, nine boards, five assists, two steals, and one block for the Altas, who never let the Cardinals come closer than seven points in the payoff period.
It was another disappointing performance for the Cardinals, who still led at the end of the first quarter and kept the game knotted at halftime, before faltering in the second half.
The Cardinals found an early spark from surprise starter and rookie guard Exeqiel Biteng, who fired half of his career-high 18 points in the first period where Mapua came out on top by two points.
Perpetual Help (73) -- Baloria 18, Arboleda 17, Thompson 13, Alano 12, Omorogbe 5, Elopre 5, Bitoy 3, Dizon 0, Bantayan 0, Lucente 0, Jolangcob 0.
Mapua (65) -- Braña 19, Biteng 18, Isit 10, Ighalo 8, Magsigay 4, Saitanan 4, Estrella 2, Gabo 0, Eriobu 0, Gonzalez 0, Cantos 0.
Quarterscores: 20-22; 37-37; 55-50; 73-65.