NOT even a flu and an out-of-the-blue rumor could prevent Juneric Baloria from proving why he’s the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s top freshman.
Baloria underlined his lofty stature on Saturday when he pumped in a team-high 18 points to lead University of Perpetual Help to a 73-65 victory over Mapua at The Arena in San Juan.
What makes the performance of the 23-year-old Lanao del Norte pride more remarkable is that he only came out of the hospital earlier in the day after being confined due to flu.
“Hindi ako one hundred percent,” admitted Baloria, who still came away with three blocks and three steals in 29 minutes of play. “May trangkaso ako at hirap ako huminga kasi barado ilong ko.”
“Pero tinry ko pa rin maglaro,” added the rookie, who’s been hounded recently by rumors that he’s overaged.
Altas coach Aric del Rosario said Baloria’s illness wasn’t bad enough to not field him.
“Hindi ka naman mamamatay dyan eh. Pag nag-collapse ka, malapit lang ospital dito sa San Juan,” Del Rosario joked.
“Pag naging player ka, talagan dadanas ka ng ganyan,” the veteran mentor added.
Del Rosario also reiterated his prized ward is not overage, saying they have the records to prove it.