TOP gunner Juneric Baloria said he would gladly exchange the Rookie of the Year award for a first ever NCAA Finals appearance.
The University of Perpetual Help freshman failed to carry his team to the Season 89 Finals after the Altas bowed to three-time defending champion San Beda, 51-70, in their Final Four encounter at the Mall of Asia Arena.
A cinch to win the Rookie of the Year award over closest rivals CJ Perez and Jamil Ortuoste of San Sebastian, Baloria said he would rather see himself and the Altas bag a first-ever league title than win the coveted individual honor.
"Siyempre naman po mas gusto ko 'yung champion kami," he disclosed to Spin.ph. "Para po sa team 'yun."
But the rookie was the first to admit never regained his confidence after struggling in the Altas’ playoffs setback to San Sebastian (for the No. 4 seeding) last October 29 when he finished with only two points in 18 minutes of action behind a poor 0-of-11 shooting from the field.
The 23-year-old native of Lanao del Sur native again failed to deliver for the Altas in their do-or-die game against the Red Lions, finishing with just six points in a 70-51 setback.
"Sobrang higpit po kasi ng bantay nila (Red Lions) sa akin, dino-double team po nila ako kaya forced po 'yung shots ko," Baloria admitted.
The Altas, seeing action in the Final Four for the second straight season, finished their campaign with an 11-9 (win-loss) card under veteran coach Aric del Rosario.