“OK lang na tinalo nila tayo sa FilOil, tinalo din nila tayo sa Fr. Martin Cup. Basta pagdating sa NCAA, tayo ang mananalo.”
With these words, legendary coach Aric del Rosario inspired his Perpetual Help Altas to a monster upset over the Letran Knights, 69-66, in NCAA Season 88 action Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
The Altas, who travel at least an hour from Las Pinas to the playing venue, won their second straight game despite starting poorly, allowing the Knights to get off to a 9-0 start.
Perpetual turned the game into a tight affair heading into the fourth quarter, before Jett Vidal, who only had two points in the first half, fired seven points in a crucial 10-0 blast to give the Altas a 63-55 advantage with over five minutes to play.
Letran responded with a 11-5 run capped by a three-pointer by ace guard Kevin Alas to cut the lead to just two points, 68-66. Kevin Racal fouled Nosa Omorogbe, who split his free throws, giving the Knights one last chance.
But Alas missed the potential game-tying three-pointer with three seconds left, allowing Perpetual to escape with the victory.
Earl Thompson, an 18-year-old Davao native who is already in his second year with the Altas, led the way with 14 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks. He said he didn’t treat the game as special. “Wala naman akong extra preparations today. Basta every game ready ako and laging mindset ko, higitan yung performance ko before this game. Hindi ako na-o-offtrack kahit physicalin nila ako, kasi ako nalang umiiwas para di mawala ang focus ko sa game,” he said.
It was the second straight victory for del Rosario, who is making his coaching return after almost a decade away from the sidelines. “Sa tanda kong ‘to, hindi na ako nagbabasa ng mga coaching books. Lahat ng ginagawa ko based nalang sa coaching experience ko,” said the 72-year-old coaching legend.
Perpetual (69) – Thompson 14, Jolangcob 11, Vidal 9, Allen 7, Paulino 6, Babayemi 6, Omorogbe 4, Elopre 4, Alano 4, Arboleda 4.
Letran (66) – K. Alas 15, Cortes 14, Cruz 9, Belorio 9, Almazan 6, Lituania 5, Racal 4, Gabawan 3, Luib 1, J. Alas 0.
Quarterscores: 15-18, 31-34, 51-50, 69-66.
Source: Mia Rengie Angela Domingo, InterAKTV