MANILA -- Perpetual Help went to Juneric Baloria in the fourth quarter to eke out a 85-82 victory over Letran Knights in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.
Baloria exploded with a league-high 32 points including 10 in the fourth quarter as the Altas escaped with their fifth win in 8 outings, which sent them in a tie for third spot with the Jose Rizal University Bombers.
Baloria's biggest moment came when he stole the ball from rookie Kier Quinto and scored to give the Las Pinas-based school a marginal lead with 19.5 seconds remaining.
"He's a hardworker," said Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario of Baloria, a Lanao del Norte native whom he discovered playing on the streets of Angeles City, Pampanga.
The Knights had several chances to steal the win but blew them all.
Trailing by just a point, Rey Nambatac and Mark Cruz muffed their attempts, allowing Jolangcob to pluck the rebound out of nowhere and fish a foul.
Jolangcob sank the 2 foul shots to give the Altas a 3-point cushion with 2.5 seconds to go.
The last play that sealed Letran's doom was when Kevin Racal threw an errant inbound pass to Cruz that resulted into a backing violation.
The Knights, who were led by Nambatac's 23 points, fell to 2-6 (win-loss).
Justine Alano, Harold Arboleda and Earl Scottie Thompson chipped in 15, 14 and 11 points, respectively, to help in the cause.
"We just worked extra and trained hard before this game," said Baloria, who is playing in his last NCAA season.
The win helped make up for Perpetual Help's heartbreaking 77-75 defeat to 4-peat champion San Beda. In that game, Jolangcob missed a potential game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
Perpetual 85 -- Baloria 32, Alano 15, Arboleda 14, Thompson 11, Ylagan 6, Jolangcob 5, Dizon 2, Oliveria 0, Dagangon 0.
Letran 82 -- Nambatac 23, Racal 14, Cruz 12, Gabawan 10, Ruaya 9, Tambeling 9, Quinto 5, Castro 0, Luib 0, Singontiko 0, Publico 0.
Quarterscores: 17-30, 40-45, 65-59, 85-82.