PERPETUAL Help coach Aric del Rosario's old magic has certainly rubbed off on the Altas.
After a 94-88 overtime victory over Mapua on Thursday at The Arena is San Juan, Del Rosario's Altas improved to 5-2 and matched their win total for all of last season when they finished with a 5-13 win-loss mark.
Hired by the Altas before the start of the season, del Rosario, winner of four UAAP titles with the University of Santo Tomas, set modest goals and vowed to get the Altas out of the cellar.
With the way things are going, leading the Altas to a Final Four berth is not far-fetched anymore. But del Rosario insited he’s not thinking that far ahead.
“Hindi ko pa iniisip ang Final Four,” the 72-year-old del Rosario said. “Pangako ko lang maalis sila sa kulelat."
The Altas, though, had to endure anxious moments before they could grab their fifth victory this season.
The Altas squandered a late double-digit lead as the Cardinals forced overtime, but they held on with Earl Thompson and Femi Babayemi taking charge in the extra period.
The 19-year-old Thompson came up with another fine all-around performance with 22 points, 10 assists, five boards, and four steals, while Babayemi, one of the squad’s two Nigerian imports, registered a double-double of 13 points and the same number of rebounds.
After Thompson buried a triple that made it 78-67 for the Altas with four minutes and 14 seconds remaining in the fourth, the Cardinals rallied to tie the game at 85.
But the Altas buckled down on defense to limit the Cardinals to just one field goal in the extra period.
“Nalagay ko na sa mga players ko yung hindi umaayaw na attitude,” Del Rosario said.
PERPETUAL 94 – Thompson 22, Allen 19, Babayemi 13, Vidal 11, Omorogbe 11, Elopre 9, Arboleda 7, Alano 2, Jolangcob 0, Paulino 0.
MAPUA 88 – Parala 20, Banal G. 18, Banal J. 15, Ighalo 12, Nimes 7, Stevens 5, Eriobu 4, Chien 3, Brana 2, Saitanan 2, Estrella 0.
Quarterscores: 24-11; 44-35; 64-57; 85-85; 94-88.