IT hardly matters if you have an undersized frontline when you have a Big Three that stands tall.
University of Perpetual Help turned to Earl Thompson, Harold Arboleda, and Juneric Baloria as it cruised past Emilio Aguinaldo College, 73-65, to gain a share of the lead in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
Thompson stood tallest as he registered a rare triple-double of 15 points, 13 boards, and 12 assists, while Arboleda and Baloria delivered their usual numbers.
The triple threat’s performance was more than enough for the relatively smaller Altas to establish and maintain a sizeable cushion and overcome a Generals side with one of the league’s top big men in Cedric Happi.
The Altas even collected 41 rebounds, two more than the Generals.
Most importantly, the Altas remained unbeaten after three starts to join defending champion San Beda on top.
“Nandun ang puso nila,” Altas coach Aric del Rosario said. “Tska yung teamwork nila, yung pasahan, dun kami nananalo. Dun kami lamang sa ibang team.”
Arboleda had 15 points on five triples, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals with just one minute of rest, while the high-scoring Baloria sustained his stature with a game-high 18 markers, on top of four boards, two assists, and two steals.
But it was the Thompson shone brightest by flashing his all-around brilliance that enabled the Altas to build double-digit lead that grew to as many as 21 points in the third quarter.
Happi tallied 14 points, 15 boards, and four assists as the 6-foot-7 Cameroonian slotman conspired with Jan Jamon, who waxed hot in the final frame to lead a Generals rally that saw them trim the lead to just seven, 55-62.
UPHSD 73 – Baloria 18, Thompson 15, Arboleda 15, Alano 10, Gallardo 4, Dagangon 4, Dizon 3, Bantayan 2, Sadiwa 2, Oliveria 0, Jolangcob 0
EAC 65 – Jamon 15, Happi 14, Aguilar 11, Arquero 6, Tayongtong 5, Pascual 4, Onwubere 4, King 3, Mejos 3, Santos 0, Serrano 0, Saludo 0
Quarterscores: 12-13, 35-20, 59-44, 73-65