BEFORE he could shine on the court, Juneric Baloria knew he had to deliver off it.
Finally paying his dues after being sidelined last year due to academic deficiencies, the Lanao del Norte native is now eligible at age 23.
The outstanding lefty swingman continued to make up for lost time on Saturday, leading University of Perpetual Help to a 71-66 triumph over Lyceum in the NCAA men’s basketball competition at The Arena in San Juan.
Coming off a league-high 33 points in a 78-77 overtime loss to San Sebastian on Monday, Baloria unloaded 18 markers this time, including eight in the final frame where the Altas held off the Pirates to score their third win in four games, tying idle defending champion San Beda in second place.
Baloria, who inherited the starting slot of former gunner Jet Vidal, also shone on defense, making a crucial rejection on a layup attempt by a driving Dexter Zamora that could have cut the lead to just two points with less than a minute remaining in the game.
“Dapat ganun talaga ipakita niya kasi sobra-sobra ang tiwala ko sa kanya,” Altas coach Aric del Rosario said of his prized ward.
“Sinusuklian ko talaga siya,” replied Baloria, who buried three triples and added six rebounds in just four minutes of rest. “Kahit pinipisikal ako ng Lyceum, hindi ako nagpaapekto para hindi masira yung laro ko.”
Baloria also had plenty of help from his teammates. Nicholas Omorogbe had 19 points, missing a double-double by one board, although he committed 10 turnovers. Skipper Harold Arboleda produced another workmanlike effort with eight points and 12 rebounds.
The Pirates failed to ride the momentum of their blowout win over Mapua last Saturday as they fell to an even 2-2 win-loss card.
Perpetual Help (71) – Omorogbe 19, Baloria 18, Alano 10, Thompson 9, Arboleda 8, Elopre 4, Bantayan 3, Oliveria 0, Dizon 0, Jolangcob 0, Lucente 0
Lyceum (66) – Zamora 13, Ko 11, Azores 10, Mbomiko 10, Baltazar 8, Francisco 5, Lesmoras 5, Ambohot 4, Mendoza 0, Evangelista 0, Taladua 0, Alanes 0
Quarterscores: 19-14; 42-30; 55-55; 71-66.