MANILA, Philippines – Harold Arboleda canned two pressure-packed free throws with a fraction of a second to go as Perpetual Help pulled off a stunning 76-75 victory over the heavily favored San Beda Red Lions Monday at the San Juan Arena.
The win helped the Altas breathe life to their Final Four campaign in the NCAA Season 90 men's basketball tournament.
Catching Arthur dela Cruz on a fake while shooting a three-pointer to get a foul and three free throws, Arboleda missed the first but made the last two, helping the Altas seal their ninth win against six losses, while keeping them in the Final Four race.
The Lions tried one last time to snatch the win, but Arboleda helped bother the inbound pass by Baser Amer to Ola Adeogun as time expired.
"It was an unbelievable experience, beating San Beda," said Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario.
San Beda, however, put the game under protest, contesting that a three-pointer by Perpetual Help's Joel Jolangcob at the end of the third quarter should have been nullified because the Altas already committed a 24-second shotclock violation.
"We've put the game under protest," confirmed San Beda manager Jude Roque.
As it stands, however, Perpetual has a 9-6 record, putting them half a game behind College of St. Benilde and Jose Rizal University, who are at joint third with identical 9-5 slates.
Already in the Final Four, San Beda fell to 13-3 this season and saw its bid to clinch the twice-to-beat advantage foiled with the loss.
The Altas also got a measure of revenge after having lost six straight games to the Red Lions, including a stinging 75-77 setback in their first round encounter last August 6.
Perpetual Help's last win over San Beda came on September 12, 2012, when Jet Vidal carried the Altas to an 88-87 overtime win.
After trailing by as much as 14 points, 49-63 – thanks to Jolangcob's contested three-pointer – the Red Lions roared their way back into the game and even claimed a 75-74 lead with 11 seconds to go on a foul shot by Adeogun and a follow-up by Dela Cruz on the Nigerian's second miss from the stripe.
Arboleda then took over as he caught Dela Cruz on a fake with two-tenths of a second to go, eventually leading to his game-winning free throws.
UPHSD 76 - Baloria 22, Dagangon 18, Alano 12, Arboleda 9, Thompson 7, Jolangcob 6, Oliveria 2, Bantayan 0, Gallardo 0
SBC 75 - Adeogun 20, Amer 10, Mendoza 10, dela Cruz 9, A. Semerad 8, Tongco 8, Cabanag 4, Pascual 4, Koga 2, Abatayo 0, D. Semerad 0, Solera 0
Quarterscores: 15-13; 34-31; 63-49; 76-75