UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario has vowed to grab that elusive victory over San Beda in case the two NCAA men’s basketball tournament heavyweights meet again this season.
The second-running Altas bowed to the defending champion Red Lions, 76-78, in overtime on Thursday night in a result that gave San Beda a sweep of their head-to-head matchup in the elimination round. Perpetual Help also lost their first-round encounter, 65-72.
Dating back to last season, the Altas have been winless in the last four games against the Lions.
If they would finish the eliminations as the top two teams as anticipated, the only time the Altas can face off with the Lions anew is in the Finals.
That's where del Rosario is hoping to get his revenge.
“Siguro hindi ko na sila papakunin ng pangatlong (panalo),” the multi-titled del Rosario said. “Gagawa ako ng paraan para makuha yung pangatlong game. Pipilitin kong manalo.”
In a thrilling fightback, the Altas, behind a suffocating trapping defense, dug themselves out of an enormous 21-point hole in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Lions, 30-9, to make a game of it.
Nicholas Omorogbe led the furious fightback, scoring 12 points in the final frame, including the left-wing three-point bomb that forced overtime and sent the Perpetual Help gallery at The Arena in San Juan into a delirium.
The Altas kept the game close in the extra period, before the Lions once again turned to the tandem of Rome dela Rosa and Art dela Cruz to escape with the hard-fought victory.
“Gusto talaga namin makabawi, pero wala, kinapos rin. At least lumaban pa rin hanggang sa huli,” said del Rosario, who admitted the Lions’ vast experience - and his team's lack of it - made the difference in the endgame.
“Sanay na nila sa endgame. Yun ang lamang nila sa amin.”
Del Rosario, however, was quick to add that the loss, just their fourth in 15 games, was not tough to swallow.
“Hindi (demoralizing) kasi break lang yung nangyari eh. Siguro hindi lang talaga para sa amin yung game.”