UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help turned out to have more bullets in a shootout with Letran as the Altas outdueled the Knights, 85-82, on Saturday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Harold Arboleda, Justine Alano, and Earl Thompson delivered as usual, but it was Juneric Baloria who almost singlehandedly carried the Altas down the stretch, firing eight points in the in the last two minutes to lift his team to a fifth victory in eight games and tie Jose Rizal University in third spot.
In all, the senior guard from Lanao del Norte tallied 32 points, one shy of his career-high, built around six triples to emerge victorious in his personal shootout with Rey Nambatac.
Nambatac, the Knights’ top defensive stopper, delivered offensively this time, scattering five triples on the way to a season-high 23-point output, which all went for naught for the Knights, who
absorbed a sixth loss in eight games.
The former NCAA juniors MVP, though, continued to live up to his status on the defensive end, coming up with a steal against Baloria, which led to the second of his back-to-back triples that gave the
Knights a 79-75 lead with less than two minutes left.
But that motivated Baloria, who started his one-man show with a trey with one minute and 33 seconds left, followed it up with a three-point play, then capped it with a tough fade-away jumper off a loose ball
that put the Altas ahead for good at 83-82 with 19.5 seconds left.
“Sabi ko kailangan bumawi ako dito kasi pag hindi, nasa isip ko, matatalo dahil sa akin,” said Baloria, the league’s leading scorer.
On the other end, Joel Jolangcob, the smallest man on the court, grabbed a crucial defensive rebound, drew a foul, then converted two insurance charities to push the Altas’ lead to three.
The Knights, who squandered an early 14-point lead, had the chance to force overtime, but off a timeout, Kevin Racal made a bad inbound pass to Mark Cruz, leading to a backcourt violation.
UPHSD 85 – Baloria 32, Alano 15, Arboleda 14, Thompson 11, Ylagan 6, Jolangcob 5, Dizon 2, Oliveria 0, Dagangon 0.
CSJL 82 – Nambatac 23, Racal 14, Cruz 12, Gabawan 10, Ruaya 9, Tambeling 9, Quinto 5, Castro 0, Luib 0, Singontiko 0, Publico 0.
Quarterscores: 17-30; 40-45; 65-59; 85-82.