HAROLD Arboleda overshadowed Juneric Baloria with his clutch plays to lift University of Perpetual Help to a 64-61 victory over gritty Jose Rizal University on Monday at The Arena in San Juan to keep in step with the leaders of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Baloria, the league’s top Rookie of the Year candidate, displayed another sizzling offensive show by topscoring for 32 points, but it was Arboleda who delivered the key baskets down the stretch for the Altas, who notched a 10th victory in 13 games, just a half-game behind San Beda and Letran.
Arboleda, the team’s skipper, scored six points in the payoff period, where the Altas regained a cushion and proved steadier against the Bombers, who reeled to a fourth straight loss and seventh overall against five wins.
“Siya talaga ang leader ng team,” Altas coach Aric del Rosario said of Arboleda, the unassuming fourth-year forward who has emerged as a surprise MVP candidate in the first part of the season.
Arboleda finished with a double-double of 11 boards that went with three steals, two blocks, and two assists.
The Bombers dug out of a huge 16-point hole and took the lead, the last at 55-53 on a Philip Paniamogan triple, before Baloria completed a three-point play -- where all his points in the fourth quarter came -- and Arboleda took over.
“Ito talaga ang pinapangarap kong team, yung hanggang sa huli, hindi bumibitiw,” Del Rosario said.
Baloria did most of his damage in the first three quarters, where the pride of Lanao del Norte exploded for 29 points.
His monster effort spoiled a similar showing by Michael Mabulac, who pumped in a career-high 28 points and missed a 20-20 output with a single rebound, while leading the Bombers’ huge fightback.
Perpetual Help (64) -- Baloria 32, Arboleda 13, Omorogbe 10, Alano 5, Dizon 2, Oliveria 0, Thompson 0, Ylagan 0, Bantayan 0, Elopre 0, Jolangcob 0.
Jose Rizal (61) -- Mabulac 28, Paniamogan 11, Dela Paz 7, Juanico 5, Lasquety 4, Salaveria 4, Balagtas 2, Pontejos 0, Gozum 0, Sanchez 0.
Quarterscores: 19-12; 37-28; 46-48; 64-61.