WHILE it was the 'triple threat' of Earl Thompson, Juneric Baloria, and Harold Arboleda who keyed Perpetual Help’s blistering start, a rookie provided crucial stops to help the Altas secure the win.
High-leaping Ric Gallardo stepped up down the stretch when starting center Justine Alano fouled out, emerging as the unlikely hero for the Altas in an 82-79 victory over San Sebastian in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The 18-year-old Gallardo, in just his second game for the Altas, made his presence felt and helped preserve the Altas win that gained them a share of the lead with San Beda.
In the last two minutes, Gallardo came up with a sensational block on Bobby Balucanag, an offensive rebound and putback of a Thompson jumper that fell short, a defensive rebound, and a free throw to seal the win.
Gallardo is another one of the young talent developed by the father and son coaching tandem of Aric and Lester del Rosario.
“Nakita namin siya sa Bataan, naglalakad lang,” Del Rosario said in jest about the 6-foot-4 find from Mariveles. “Sabi ko, ’Gusto mo maglaro? Sa amin ka na.’”
Two years of residency with the Altas and he delivered right away.
“Masipag siya,” the elder Del Rosario said. “Ang sabi ko sa kanya, 'Bago ka lang, huwag ka muna maghanap ng score. Ang trabahuhin mo rebound tsaka depensa lang muna.'”
Gallardo did just that as he finished with three points, five boards, and one block in 17 minutes off the bench.