UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help turned an expected thriller into a blowout, stunning Letran, 80-66, on Thursday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the packed San Juan Arena.
Behind their hot shooting and suffocating defense, the Altas zoomed to an early lead and never looked back as they dealt the Knights their first loss of the season, allowing defending champion San Beda to seize a share of the top spot.
The Altas raced to their sixth victory in eight games, solidifying their hold of third place.
“Sabi ko sa kanila pagpasok sa court, kailangan naka-kuwarta na tayo, hindi pwedeng primera lang,” Altas coach Aric del Rosario said. “Kailangan laban na agad.”
Juneric Baloria spearheaded the Altas’ attack, earning his points from beyond the arc and from daredevil drives as the Lanao del Norte pride further underscored his status as one of the league’s top rookies.
The Altas, also drawing significant contribution from Nicholas Omorogbe, Harold Arboleda, and Justine Alano, maintained a double-digit lead throughout and never let the Knights come closer than 12 points.
While Baloria did most of his damage in the second half on the way to a game-high 28 points, it was the Nigerian Omorogbe who sparked the Altas’ scorching start, scoring 12 points of his 25 points in the first quarter, where the Las Piñas-based squad established a 22-point cushion.
The Altas’ great start was a far cry from their 72-65 defeat at the hands of the Lions last July 27 when they let themselves fall into a huge hole that was too much to overcome.
“After the loss against San Beda, we just psyched ourselves and said this game was going to be totally different,” Omorogbe said.
Perpetual (80) – Baloria 28, Omorogbe 25, Alano 12, Elopre 5, Bantayan 4, Dizon 3, Jolangcob 3, Oliveria 0, Thompson 0, Arboleda 0, Paulino 0, Bitoy 0
Letran (66) – Almazan 15, Racal 10, Ruaya 9, Tambeling 7, Castro 6, Cruz 6, Nambatac 5, Gabawan 3, Luib 2, Buenaflor 2, Belorio 1
Quarterscores: 31-9, 49-28, 69-49, 80-66