AN unheralded player from Lanao del Norte has risen to become the NCAA's top scorer this early in the season, and Juneric Baloria insist he only has coach Aric del Rosario to thank for it.
The 23-year-old University of Perpetual Help shooting guard is averaging a sizzling 21.8 points per game in five games this season - his way, Baloria said, of repaying the faith given him by his veteran coach.
"Si coach Aric kasi binibigyan niya ako ng kumpyansa kaya ayaw ko siya mapahiya," said Baloria after scoring 21 points in the Altas' 73-66 win over Arellano University on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
Baloria, who failed to suit up for the Altas last season due to academic deficiencies, has hit in double figures in all the matches he played this season as he quickly filled the gap left by former star Jett Vidal.
He had 12 points against Emilio Aguinaldo College, 25 against Jose Rizal University, 18 points against Lyceum and broke loose for a career-high 33 in their loss to San Sebastian, 77-78, on July 8.
No wonder the Altas are 4-1 in a tie for second place with San Beda, just behind unbeaten Letran.
But for Baloria, the season is not so much about scoring honors but more about living up to the expectations of an elderly coach who has given him all the confidence and opportunity to shine.
"Sabi kasi ni coach Aric 'wag daw ako makuntento, kung ano daw ang ginawa ko ngayon higitan ko pa sa susunod," he shared.
"Kaya ako mas lalo ko pa gagalingan, after every practice nag-eextra training ako mag-isa, sa hapon tumatakbo ako tapos extra shooting.
"Basta ako lalaruin ko lang 'yung best ko, 'yun ang sabi ni coach (Aric)," he said.