MANILA, Philippines – The University of Perpetual Help Altas drew strength from the unstoppable duo of Earl Scottie Thompson and Juneric Baloria as they smashed the listless Mapua Cardinals, 91-57, to set in motion their bid in the 90th season of the NCAA Monday at the San Juan Arena.
Thompson came through with an all-around performance of 27 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks – with just one turnover – while Baloria fired 26 markers to go along with four assists and four boards.
"Palagi ko silang kinakausap na kung gusto nila mapansin, ito na ang pagkakataon na magpasikat sila," Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario said of Thompson and Baloria.
The Altas' 34-point winning margin was the NCAA's biggest since the San Beda Red Lions routed the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 118-64, on September 2, 2011.
The win was so lopsided that Thompson and Baloria, who combined for 53 points, came just four points shy of matching Mapua’s total output.
For the 20-year-old Thompson, it was a game that redeemed himself after a forgettable performance last year when he struggled after suffering a slipped disc in a pre-season tournament two years ago.
"Hindi pa ako masyado fully recovered noon. Hopefully, makabawi ako this year," said Thompson.
Baloria, for his part, wants to go out with a bang before he tries his luck in the professional ranks.
"Pangarap ko talaga makalaro sa PBA. Sana, matulungan ko ang school ko this year bago man lang ako sumubok sa PBA," said the 24-year-old Baloria.
Del Rosario hopes this impressive win will wind up sparking something bigger for the Altas.
"Final Four na kami last year, kaya umaasa kaming mas maganda pa ang ipakita namin ngayon taon," said Del Rosario, the league's oldest coach at 74 and also the most titled.
He has steered the Altas to two consecutive Final Four appearances since coming on board.
Mapua, which is out to improve its worst season in years after finishing dead last in Season 89 with a 2-16 win-loss record, was led by Joseph Eriobu’s 16 points and Andrew Estrella’s 14 points.
The Atoy Co-mentored Cardinals, however, are in for another tough campaign with former Rookie of the Year Josan Nimes being scratched out of the roster in the last minute after suffering a torn MCL (medial collateral ligament) a few weeks before the start of the season.
Another key cog of the team, Kenneth Ighalo, has exhausted his eligibility.
Meanwhile, in juniors action, Mapua walloped Perpetual Help, 103-40, to launch its campaign on a bright note. Noah Lugo paced the Robins with 20 points, while Dennel Aguirre, Sher Concepcion, and David Velvez all scored in double-digits.
Perpetual Help 91- Thompson 27, Baloria 26, Jolangcob 8, Dizon 6, Arboleda 6, Sadiwa 5, Bantayan 4, Dagangon 4, Tamayo 3, Alano 2, Gallardo 0, Lucente 0, Pido 0.
Mapua 57- Eriobu 16, Estrella 14, Cantos 6, Biteng 5, Isit 5, Saitanan 4, Serrano 3, Gabo 2, Villasenor 2, Canaynay 0, Tubiano 0, Layug 0, Galoso 0, Medina 0.
Quarterscores: 20-10; 39-26; 65-35; 91-55