COACH Aric del Rosario remained undefeated for Perpetual Help, steering the Altas to a nail-biting 69-66 win over Letran on Saturday night in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The 72-year-old mentor, who led University of Santo Tomas to four straight UAAP titles from 1993, has continued to infuse his winning ways to the Altas, formerly known as the league’s perennial cellar dwellers.
“Mga players ko gutom talaga sa panalo,” Del Rosario said. “Ilang taon na silang kulelat eh.”
Earl Thompson tallied 14 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks to lead the Altas, who improved to 2-0 and grabbed a share of the lead with Jose Rizal University.
Coming off an 82-70 win over Lyceum last Thursday, the Altas employed a 2-3 zone defense that proved to be the answer to the Knights’ fast-break game.
“Na-control namin yung running game nila,” Del Rosario said.
The Davao del Sur-born Thompson gave the Altas an eight-point 68-60 cushion with two minutes and 45 seconds left in the game.
The Knights closed in with a 6-1 run to cut the deficit to just three, but fired blanks in the ensuing possessions to lose for the first time.
Kevin Alas led the Knights with 15 points, five boards, five assists, and four steals, but missed the potential game-tying triple as time expired.
Perpetual 69 – Thompson 14, Jolangcob 11, Vidal 9, Allen 7, Paulino 6, Babayemi 6, Omorogbe 4, Elopre 4, Alano 4, Arboleda 4
Letran 66 – Alas Ke. 15, Cortes 14, Cruz 9, Belorio 9, Almazan 6, Lituania 5, Racal 4, Gabawan 3, Luib 1, Alas Kr. 0
Quarterscores: 15-18, 31-34, 51-50, 69-66.