UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help’s undersized frontline will be put to the test as it faces off with Emilio Aguinaldo College on Friday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
With a pair of 6-foot-2 workhorses in Harold Arboleda and Justine Alano at the helm, the Altas have won their first two games, a blowout against Mapua and a nail-biter against San Sebastian, and now gun for the share of the lead with San Beda.
But the Altas now take the court at 4 p.m. facing a Final Four contender that has a legitimate low-post threat in Cedric Happi, a 6-foot-7 Cameroonian double-double machine.
Arboleda churned out a near triple-double of 19 points, 11 boards, and seven assists with just one minute of rest, while Alano had eight boards, six points, and three blocks against the Stags.
Even 6-foot-4 rookie Ric Gallardo provided quality minutes after Alano fouled out, finishing with five rebounds, six points, and one block off the bench.
Altas coach Aric del Rosario stressed it should be a collective effort to contain Happi, a two-time mythical team member.
“Basta tulungan kami sa depensa,” Del Rosario said.
With their big men focusing on defense, expect the Altas’ prolific duo of Earl Thompson and Juneric Baloria to shoulder the offensive load against the Generals.
“Tingnan natin paano sila ma-minimize,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said of the Altas’ dynamic wingmen. “Hindi mo naman ma-stop yun eh.”
The Generals, sporting an even 1-1 win-loss card, have their own wingmen they can count on, led by Jan Jamon, who registered 20 points embellished by five triples in the loss to Arellano last time.
San Sebastian, one spot ahead of EAC in the 10-team standings with two wins and one loss, takes on winless College of St. Benilde (0-2) at 2 o’clock.