THE resurgence of University of Perpetual Help in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament can be credited to a brave group of players who have delivered under the spotlight in the first half of Season 89.
There’s rookie sensation Juneric Baloria, versatile Nigerian forward Nicholas Omorogbe, and veterans Justine Alano and Chris Elopre.
But one man who has produced solidly on a consistent basis while staying in the shadows is Harold Arboleda, the silent assassin whose efforts bore fruit when he came in third in the league’s statistical points race at the end of the first round.
So unassuming is Arboleda that assistant coach Lester del Rosario was surprised he was among the leaders in the race for the coveted MVP title
“Ah talaga?” Del Rosario said when Spin.ph informed him of the SPs leaders during a lull in a recent Altas practice.
In his first nine games, Arboleda normed a team-leading 12.4 boards, 9.6 points, and 3.1 assists in 35.3 minutes per game.
“Talagang ginagawa ko lang `yung best ko,” said the hard-working forward, who turns 23 on September 9. “Lagi namang sinasabi ni coach sa practice sa araw-araw na kailangan namin magpalakas kasi `yung ibang team nagpapalakas rin.”
Expect Arboleda to sustain his fine showing as the Altas start their second-round campaign against Arellano on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
Tipoff is set at 4 p.m. with the Altas seeking an eighth win in 10 games and a share of second place with defending champion San Beda.
Ahead of Arboleda in the SPs leaders is Omorogbe, who knows what’s in store in the second round.
“It’s gonna be a different ballgame,” he said after the Altas’ 90-89 overtime win over College of St. Benilde last time. “Teams are going to be more physical so we gotta be ready for what’s coming for us because it’s not gonna be easy.”
The Altas will face a rejuvenated Chiefs side that snapped a four-game skid with a 67-64 victory over Jose Rizal University last August 24 that improved their win-loss record to 3-6.
Meanwhile, the Altas’ and the Chiefs’ latest victims, St. Benilde and Jose Rizal, face off in the second game at 6 p.m.
The Heavy Bombers, who sport a 5-4 card, try to strengthen their hold of the last Final Four spot as they take on the Blazers, who remain in the thick of things despite toting a 3-6 slate.