JUNERIC Baloria lived up to his growing stature as the new gunner of University of Perpetual, leading the Altas to a 78-70 victory over Jose Rizal University in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan on Monday.
Filling the void left by hotshot Jet Vidal, the 23-year-old rookie swingman from Lanao del Norte fired three triples on the way to a game-high 25 points, including 12 in the third quarter where the Altas built a cushion enough to weather a late storm by the Bombers.
The Altas thus grabbed a share of the lead with idle Letran with a second successive victory.
“Masaya ang feeling na mag-step up,” said Baloria, who had plenty of help coming from Nosa Omorogbe and Harold Arboleda.
Omorogbe, one of the Altas’ two Nigerian imports, tallied 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals, while Arboleda registered a double-double of 13 points and the same number of boards that went with five assists.
Earl Thompson, still recovering from a back injury, didn’t even have to bring his A-game for the Altas to win. The junior swingman wound up with just four points and four rebounds.
“Yun ang maganda ngayon, lahat sa amin umiiskor unlike last year kailangan lang nila pigilan si Vidal,” said Altas coach Aric del Rosario.
Michael Mabulac, Philip Paniamogan, and Jordan dela Paz conspired to help the full-court defending Bombers - coming off a hard-earned win over Mapua last time - rally from a late double-digit deficit that all went for naught.
“Malayo pa tayo sa karera, pero masaya ako na nakadalawa na kami. Sana tuloy-tuloy na,” Del Rosario said.
Perpetual Help (78) -- Baloria 25, Omorogbe 20, Arboleda 13, Alano 9, Elopre 7, Thompson 4, Oliveria 0, Dizon 0, Ylagan 0, Bantayan 0, Jolangcob 0.
Jose Rizal (70) – Mabulac 22, Paniamogan 17, Dela Paz 11, Pontejos 6, Abanto 5, Lasquety 5, Juanico 2, Salaveria 2, Gozum 0, Balagtas 0, Benavides 0, Sanchez 0.
Quarterscores: 22-20; 41-32; 64-50; 78-70.