University of Perpetual Help found an unlikely hero on the day the nation celebrated National Heroes' Day.
Chris Elopre made two crucial plays on both ends to lift the Altas to a pulsating 90-89 overtime victory over College St. Benilde on Monday night in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The graduating playmaker finished with just four points, but scored the basket that mattered most as the Altas notched a seventh victory in nine games and grabbed a share of second place with defending champion San Beda.
Cold from long range, the southpaw Elopre tried his luck inside and got rewarded by blowing by his defender and scoring on a right-handed layup that gave the Altas the lead for good with 14.7 seconds remaining in the extra period.
“Hindi ako ang tumira ‘nun kundi si God. Praise God,” Elopre said. “Tsaka nahiya na rin ako sa mga teammate ko kasi yung mga outside shooting nila at ako, tira ng tira sa labas pero hindi pumapasok.”
Elopre later pounced on an inbound miscue by Benilde by making a steal to preserve the hard-fought victory in a see-saw affair that saw 15 lead changes and five deadlocks.
“Dikdikan ang laban, hindi magkalayo. Buti na lang ang players ko (pinatibay) na ng panahon, hindi na bumibitaw,” Altas coach Aric del Rosario said. “Kahit nilalamangan kami, laban pa rin.”
Elopre overshadowed usual dependable players Juneric Baloria, Nicholas Omorogbe, Harold Arboleda, and Justine Alano, who delivered as usual.
Baloria lived up to his status as the league’s top rookie and leading scorer by firing 25 points, while Omorogbe, the versatile Nigerian forward, chipped in 22 markers. Arboleda and Alano tallied 19 points apiece.
Jonathan Grey’s career-high 29 points went for naught for the Blazers, whose three-game winning streak was snapped as they fell to a 3-6 win-loss card overall.
Mark Romero, who added 25 points for the Blazers, had two potential game-winning three-point attempts that went out, one in regulation and another in overtime.
UPHSD (90) – Baloria 25, Omorogbe 22, Arboleda 19, Alano 19, Elopre 4, Oliveria 1, Dizon 0, Thompson 0, Bantayan 0, Paulino 0, Jolangcob 0, Bitoy 0
CSB (89) – Grey 29, Romero 25, Taha 14, Saavedra 9, Bartolo 8, Jonson 3, Ongteco 1, Sinco 0, Argamino 0, Garcia 0, Deles 0
Quarterscores: 24-13, 42-45, 60-62, 80-80, 90-89