MANILA – Perpetual Help turned back San Sebastian in a pulsating 82-79 victory that sent it to the top with defending champion San Beda in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Earl Scottie Thompson, Harold Arboleda and Juneric Baloria led their team in scoring with 26, 19 and 18 points, respectively, but it was rookie big man Ric Gallardo who provided the finishing kick in the final stretch.
The 17-year old blocked Bobby Balucanag’s shot that led to a wide-open lay-up by Thompson who knotted the count at 79-all with over a minute to go.
A couple of plays later, Gallardo followed up an air ball and banged in a shot that gave the Altas an 81-79 lead with 19.8 seconds remaining.
Gallardo then plucked the rebound off a missed floater by neophyte Jerick Fabian, and after he was fouled by Bradwyn Guinto and sent him to the free throw line, he sank the first before missing the second.
Jamil Ortuoste got the rebound and was a step too slow in launching a desperation triple that was way short, sealing the Las Pinas-based school's second straight win and a tie at the top of the standings with San Beda.
“Swerte lang (It was luck),” said Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario.
Del Rosario was all praises for his freshman Gallardo. “Matyaga at masipag ang bata na ‘yan,” he said.
The Altas blew an 18-point lead in the first quarter, 31-13, by torching the Stags with 7 booming triples early.
But San Sebastian found a way to fight its way back in the third quarter when Jaymar Perez, scoreless in the first-half after he was hobbled by early foul trouble, combined with Bradwyn Guinto and Jamil Ortuoste in delivering the critical blows.
The Stags looked headed to completing a mighty comeback when they snatched a 6-point edge twice, the last at 79-73 on a reverse lay up by Jovit dela Cruz with a little over 3 minutes left.
It turned out to be the last rally as the Altas racked up six unanswered points—4 by Arboleda and 2 by Thompson—before Gallardo entered the fray to nail the final coffin.
Ortuoste paced the Stags with 22 points, while Guinto and dela Cruz scored 18 and 16, respectively.
Perpetual found a way to neutralize Perez, who was held to just 8 points after scoring a combined 49 points in San Sebastian’s victories over Letran, 85-83, and Jose Rizal, 88-81, to fall to 2-1 (win-loss).
Perpetual 82 -- Thompson 26, Arboleda 19, Baloria 18, ALano 6, Dizon 5, Dagangon 5, Gallardo 3, Oliveria 0, Bantayan 0, Sadiwa 0, Jolangcob 0.
San Sebastian 79 -- Ortuoste 22, Guinto 18, Dela Cruz 16, Perez 8, Fabian 4, Aquino 4, Balucanag 3, Calisaan 3, Yong 2, Costelo 0.
Quarterscores: 31-13, 47-29, 61-59; 82-79