View Full Version : Altas in NCAA Season 89

Sam Miguel
06-27-2013, 09:41 AM
Stags, Chiefs face off; Altas play Generals

(The Philippine Star) | Updated June 27, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - San Sebastian tries to bounce back from its opening game setback while three other teams make their debut as action in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament resumes today at The Arena in San Juan City.

Now without former aces Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang, the Stags struggled against the Letran Knights and dropped a 69-74 decision in last Saturday’s opener of the league’s 89th season.

But they are expected to encounter tough outing against the Arellano U Chiefs in their 4 p.m. match with the latter hoping to ride on their sterling pre-season performance.

The Chiefs finished ahead of the San Beda Lions after the group stages of the recent Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup.

“We’re happy that our hard work, patience and discipline is starting to bear fruits,” said Arellano U coach Koy Banal.

“But we can’t let these recent triumphs get into our heads, that’s the last thing we want to do,” he added.

The Chiefs, who will be missing Fil-Canadian Adam Jacob Serjue due to a torn MCL (medial collateral ligament) until early or middle of next month, are expected to lean again on the do-it-all pair of John Pinto and another Fil-Canadian James Forrester.

Perpetual Help and Emilio Aguinaldo College, two of the teams with intact rosters, clash in the other game at 6 p.m. with the winner joining Letran and Lyceum in the early lead.

The Pirates pulled off an early shocker by beating the fancied three-peat champions San Beda Lions, 70-66, last Monday.

“As I’ve said before, any team can beat any team this season so it will really depend on how we adjust and respond to every challenge we face during the game,” said Banal.

The Altas lost only Jett Vidal and George Allen to graduation but hope to get the most from 6-3 Kervin Lucente and 6-4 Nestor Bantayan Jr. from Adamson and Juneric Baloria from Angeles City, Pampanga and Nigerians Femi Babayemi and Nosa Omorogba and Earl Scotty Thompson, a talented guard from Davao.

“They’re not all 100-percent but at least everybody is all accounted for,” said Perpetual’s mentor Aric del Rosario, who steered the Altas to their first Final Four appearance last year, in Filipino.

Like Perpetual, EAC is another team tipped to make an impact this year with a solid roster headed by Fil-Nigerian Sydney Onwubere and Cameroonians Jean Jacques Hiola Manga and Noube Happi.

“We’re happy with our chances this season but we know it’s going to be tougher this year because all the team have improved really,” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana.

Sam Miguel
07-19-2013, 08:14 AM
Altas trip Chiefs, tie Lions at 2nd

Resurgent SSC Stags extend Blazers’ misery

By June Navarro

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:48 pm | Thursday, July 18th, 2013

UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help built a big cushion early and held its ground in the end to subdue Arellano University, 73-66, last night in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena.

Rookie Juneric Baloria again took charge with 21 points but it was Chrisper Elopre’s long-range firepower that helped propel the Altas to their second straight win following a disputed overtime loss last week to the San Sebastian Stags.

Elopre’s back-to-back threes in the closing minutes of the third period pushed the Altas ahead by 15 before the victors deflected a ferocious assault by the Chiefs to forge a tie for second spot at 4-1 with idle defending champion San Beda.

Idle Letran shows the way with four wins in as many outings. The Knights will try to make it five in a row when they battle Lyceum tomorrow.

Perpetual Help coach Aric Del Rosario was all praise for power forward Harold Arboleda, who threw his weight in the paint by grabbing 20 rebounds apart from scoring nine points.

“He’s my silent killer,” said Del Rosario in Filipino, referring to the 6-foot-3 Hotel and Restaurant Management major.

“Harold knows how to score and, at the same time, play tough defense. He’s also my stopper against the shooters of the opposing team.”

Steadier in the end

Later, San Sebastian proved steadier down the stretch and slipped past St. Benilde, 80-78, to gain a share of fourth spot with Jose Rizal University.

Leo de Vera nailed two free throws with 31 seconds remaining after teammate Jovit dela Cruz scored on a layup and a steal as the Stags completed a stirring comeback inside the final minute for its third win in five outings.

It was another heartbreaking loss for the Blazers who have now dropped their fifth game of the tournament by a combined margin of seven points.

The Blazers have never lost by more than two points.

Holding a three-point edge at halftime, the Altas outscored the Chiefs, 21-9, to surge to a 62-47 lead.

Levi Hernandez and Allen Enriquez then conspired with Nard John Pinto to pull the Chiefs within nine, time down to less than three minutes.

But the Altas countered behind Nicholas Omorogbe and Baloria, who scored successive baskets that pegged the final count.

Pinto had eight of his team-high 17 points in the fourth for the Chiefs, who absorbed their third setback in five games.

Staglets down Greenies

Earlier, Ryan Paule Costelo scored 12 points and Rhanzelle Yong added 10 as the San Sebastian Staglets downed the La Salle Green Hills Greenies, 62-52, for their fifth straight win and a tie with the unbeaten San Beda Red Cubs at the top of the junior standings.

The Greenies lost their first game in four outings.

The University of Perpetual Help Altalettes leaned on Sir Shaquille Imperial’s 30 points to edge the Arellano Braves, 75-73, for their third victory in five outings. The Braves dropped to 1-4.

The scores:

Seniors First Game

PERPETUAL 73—Baloria 21, Alano 15, Elopre 12, Arboleda 9, Omorogbe 7, Thompson 7, Oliveria 2, Dizon 0, Ylagan 0, Bantayan 0.

ARELLANO 66—Pinto 17, Hernandez 11, Agovida 9, Enriquez 8, Caperal 6, Forrester 6, Nicholls 3, Jalalon 2, Salcedo 2, Gumaru 2, Bangga 0, Margallo 0, Cadavis 0.

Quarters: 22-14, 41-38, 62-47, 73-66

Seniors Second Game

SAN SEBASTIAN 80—Ortuoste 23, Perez 17, Dela Cruz 12, De Vera 8, Tano 7, Guinto 6, Gusi 3, Rebollos 2, Vergara 2, Balucanag 0, Magno 0.

ST. BENILDE 78—Taha 21, Grey 17, Bartolo 12, Romero 10, Ongteco 7, Sinco 6, Garcia 3, Deles 2, Jonson 0, Saavedra 0, Argamino 0.

Quarters: 16-14, 36-35, 56-58, 80-78

Sam Miguel
07-23-2013, 09:27 AM
Perpetual nips Mapua; SSC up

By Cedelf P. Tupas

2:46 am | Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

NOSA Omorogbe exploded for 25 points, including a flurry of triples down the stretch, as Perpetual Help nipped Mapua, 73-68, yesterday to forge a tie with San Beda for second place in the NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

The Nigerian forward knocked in three of the Altas’ five three-pointers in the final period as Perpetual Help held off repeated Mapua rallies to notch a third straight victory and improve to 5-1.

Earlier, San Sebastian rediscovered its lethal form in the fourth quarter as the Stags came from behind to trounce the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 81-74, for their third straight victory.

CJ Perez, Jamil Ortuoste and Leo De Vera joined forces in a bristling finish that sent the Stags to their fourth win in six outings and solo fourth spot.

The Cardinals absorbed their third straight loss, joining the Generals in a tie at eighth spot with a 1-5 slate.

Perez, tipped as heir apparent to Calvin Abueva, lived up to the hype, finishing with 20 points, including five in the final period, while Ortuoste delivered six of his 16 points in the final 10 minutes.

De Vera, playing in his first and final year for the Stags, pumped in nine points, including a key triple that broke a four-minute dry spell boosted San Sebastian on top 72-70 with 2:04 remaining.

Ortuoste’s free throws pushed the lead to 74-71, before Perez, responding to Jam Jamon’s triple on the other end, buried the go-ahead three-pointer with 44.3 seconds remaining.

The Stags actually fashioned out their second straight win without coach Topex Robinson, who is still out of the country.

“Every player did his part especially on defense,” said assistant coach Raymond Valenzona.

Valenzona also steered the Staglets to their sixth straight win after a 77-67 triumph over the Brigadiers earlier.

Meanwhile, Letran guard Franz Dysam underwent surgery yesterday to remove four bullets in his body, two days after two motorcycle-riding men shot him and his girlfriend, Joan Sordan.

Sordan died on arrival at San Juan Medical Center.

The scores:

SAN SEBASTIAN 81—Perez 20, Ortuoste 16, Guinto 15, Dela Cruz 11, De Vera 9, Gusi 5, Balucanag 3, Rebollos 2, Vergara 0, Tano 0, Magno 0.

EAC 74—Jamon 25, Morada 13, Happi 11, Arquero 9, Paguia 6, Onwubere 3, King 2, Monteclaro 2, Hiole Manga 2, Tayongtong 1, Castro 0, Mejos 0, Munsayac 0.

Quarters: 17-12, 42-36, 57-64, 81-74

Sam Miguel
07-23-2013, 09:28 AM
Nosa Omorogbe continues putting up MVP numbers. If he can get his Altas back into the Final 4 he will get my vote for MVP.

Sam Miguel
07-24-2013, 10:46 AM
Unheralded Baloria turns into NCAA top gun as he strives to repay Aric's faith

By Mei-Lin Lozada

July 19, 2013, 05:23 pm

For Juneric Baloria, the season is not so much about scoring honors but more about living up to the expectations of an elderly coach who has given him all the confidence and opportunity to shine. Jerome Ascano For Juneric Baloria, the season is not so much about scoring honors but more about living up to the expectations of an elderly coach who has given him all the confidence and opportunity to shine.

AN unheralded player from Lanao del Norte has risen to become the NCAA's top scorer this early in the season, and Juneric Baloria insist he only has coach Aric del Rosario to thank for it.

The 23-year-old University of Perpetual Help shooting guard is averaging a sizzling 21.8 points per game in five games this season - his way, Baloria said, of repaying the faith given him by his veteran coach.

"Si coach Aric kasi binibigyan niya ako ng kumpyansa kaya ayaw ko siya mapahiya," said Baloria after scoring 21 points in the Altas' 73-66 win over Arellano University on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.

Baloria, who failed to suit up for the Altas last season due to academic deficiencies, has hit in double figures in all the matches he played this season as he quickly filled the gap left by former star Jett Vidal.

He had 12 points against Emilio Aguinaldo College, 25 against Jose Rizal University, 18 points against Lyceum and broke loose for a career-high 33 in their loss to San Sebastian, 77-78, on July 8.

No wonder the Altas are 4-1 in a tie for second place with San Beda, just behind unbeaten Letran.

But for Baloria, the season is not so much about scoring honors but more about living up to the expectations of an elderly coach who has given him all the confidence and opportunity to shine.

"Sabi kasi ni coach Aric 'wag daw ako makuntento, kung ano daw ang ginawa ko ngayon higitan ko pa sa susunod," he shared.

"Kaya ako mas lalo ko pa gagalingan, after every practice nag-eextra training ako mag-isa, sa hapon tumatakbo ako tapos extra shooting.

"Basta ako lalaruin ko lang 'yung best ko, 'yun ang sabi ni coach (Aric)," he said.

07-28-2013, 08:56 AM
Red Lions subdue Altas

San Beda keeps 2nd; JRU slips past San Sebastian

By June Navarro

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:29 am | Sunday, July 28th, 2013

DYNAMIC guard Baser Amer fired a game-high 23 points to power San Beda past University of Perpetual Help, 72-65, last night and keep second place alone in the NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

The sophomore point guard from Zamboanga City unloaded his last 10 points in the fourth quarter, eight of them coming in a row, as the Lions stayed behind idle leader Letran at 6-1 while sending the Altas to third at 5-2.

“Baser knows that he has to deliver for the team to beat Perpetual and he gladly responded to the challenge,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez.

Cameroonian Nosa Omorogbe finished with 21 points and rookie Juneric Baloria added 16 for the Altas, who rallied from a 16-point deficit late in the third period.

But Rome Dela Rosa, Arthur Dela Cruz and Ola Adeogun combined well with Baser, whose last triple atop the arc provided a five-point cushion for the defending champion Lions with three minutes remaining.

Jordan Dela Paz scored 21 points on top of nine rebounds and a pair of steals as Jose Rizal University survived San Sebastian College, 67-63, in the other game.

The Heavy Bombers foiled San Sebastian’s bid to stretch its win-streak to four games and tied the Stags at 4-2.

Up by seven early in the payoff period, the Heavy Bombers saw their lead vanish as forward Jaymar Perez, Jovit Dela Cruz and Raffy Gusi fired at will.

Perez found holes in JRU’s internal defense, Dela Cruz nailed his jumpers and Gusi drilled back-to-back threes inside three minutes that set up the cardiac finish.

Gusi’s three-pointer with 1:56 left gave them the upperhand, 63-62, before Philip Paniamogan, Cris Jordan Dela Paz and Juan Salaveria bailed out the Heavy Bombers from the stripe.

Down by just a basket, the Stags could have forced extra time but Perez misfired his runner from the corner. Salaveria was fouled during the rebound and finished off the Stags with a pair of freebies, 3.1 seconds remaining.

Omorogbe escaped with a drive and later converted one of two free throws to trim the gap, 62-68, inside two minutes.

But the Altas failed to collar the rebound after an Adeogun miss that led to an easy put-back by Dela Cruz that pushed the Lions comfortably ahead. A triple by Omorogbe with 12.3 seconds left and two free throws by Lion Yvan Ludovice closed out the scoring.

The scores:

First Game

SAN BEDA 72—Amer 23, Koga 14, Adeogun 9, Dela Cruz 8, Pascual 6, Ludovice 6, Dela Rosa 6, Abarcar 0, A. Semerad 0, Mendoza 0, Sara 0, D. Semerad 0.

PERPETUAL 65—Omorogbe 21, Baloria 16, Jolangcob 10, Arboleda 7, Alano 6, Bitoy 3, Thompson 2, Dizon 0, Ylagan 0, Elopre 0, Paulino 0.

Quarters: 20-10, 38-22, 52-39, 72-65

Second Game

JOSE RIZAL 67—Dela Paz 21, Pontejos 12, Mabulac 8, Salaveria 8, Abanto 4, Paniamogan 4, Balagtas 4, Lasquety 2, Juanico 2, Diego 2, Grospe 0, Benavides 0.

SAN SEBASTIAN 63—Perez 17, Gusi 11, Tano 10, Dela Cruz 8, Guinto 7, Ortuoste 4, De Vera 3, Rebollos 2, Balucanag 1, Vergara 0.

Quarters: 16-13, 30-34, 50-47, 67-63

08-01-2013, 01:12 PM
Not Season 89 news but still current news for Altas Basketball...

Lasalle B Wins 3rd Straight

B Archers remain unbeaten in FMC Div II

The La Salle Green Archers posted their third straight win and the University of Perpetual Help Altas pulled off an upset in the ongoing 11th Fr. Martin Division 2 Cup basketball tournament.

Benoit Mbala led three other teammates who came up with double-digit performances for the La Salle Green Archers as they brought down the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 81-57,

Melvin Rodriguez scored the winning layup in the last 8.9 seconds to lift the Altas to a 69-68 beating of the San Beda Red Lions.

Mbala shot 17 points, while Alexander Torres, John Boo and Abu Tratter hit 16, 14 and 10 points respectively for the Green Archers, who went on to post their third straight win in in Group B of the senior division.

This put the Green Archers in strong contention for the semifinals, according to commissioner Robert de la Rosa.

The Green Archers turned the tables on the Green Archers, and were ahead at halftime, 25-15, and after trailing, 7-13, in the first quarter.

Rodriguez’s heroics allowed the Altas to have an impressive start in their Group B campaign.

In other matches, the Enderun Titans bounced back from a 58-67, loss to the San Beda Red Lions with a 71-57 stopping of Angeles University Foundation.

In the junior division, the San Sebastian Staglets won over the Letran Squires, 77-73.

John Paul Susemerano shot the winning basket in the last 7.7 seconds for St. Jude, which defeated Joseph Joseph, 64-61.

08-16-2013, 09:14 AM
Altas send Knights tumbling to first loss

Bombers wake up just in time, repulse Pirates

By Cedelf P. Tupas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:57 pm | Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Juneric Baloria formed a lethal combination with Nosa Omorogbe as Perpetual Help dealt Letran its first defeat of the 89th NCAA basketball tournament with a masterful 80-66 triumph last night at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

Baloria, a rookie playing like a wily veteran, pumped in 28 points, while the bull-strong Omorogbe added 25 to fuel a bristling Perpetual attack that powered the Altas to their sixth win in eight games.

Stung by a 65-72 loss to San Beda in its last outing, the Altas were on attack mode right from the get-go, taking the fight out of the sluggish Knights as early as the first period with their outside shooting and transition game.

With the loss, the Knights dropped to 7-1, although they still shared top spot with San Beda, which Letran will face on Aug. 24 at Mall of Asia Arena in the last game of the first round.

The Altas improved to 6-2, tightening their grip on the No. 3 spot with a game remaining in their first round schedule.

Later, Jose Rizal U relied on its suffocating defense when its offense sputtered to hack out a 61-49 victory over Lyceum.

The Bombers, who scored their fifth win in eight games, held the Pirates to just 22 points in the first half and survived despite making just one basket in the final period.

Omorogbe, who also grabbed 14 rebounds, got off to a sizzling start by firing 12 of his output in the first period, before Baloria virtually finished off the Knights with 16 points in the second half, where he helped douse repeated Letran uprisings.

So dominant were the Altas that the closest the Knights could get was at 59-71 midway in the fourth quarter when Reneford Ruaya scored on a layup. Baloria quickly answered with a trey and a lay-up for, 78-59, with 4:38 left.

“We wanted to come out fighting early,” said coach Aric Del Rosario. “We didn’t want to play catchup, just like what happened against San Beda.”

Explosive in the Knights’ last two victories, where he averaged 23.5 points, Mark Cruz struggled this time, finishing with just six points and two assists. Raymond Almazan had 15 points, but made just five of his 16 shots.

The Altas proved fluid offensively, dishing out 23 assists with Omorogbe accounting for seven.

“We treated the game like it’s the last game of the season,” said Omorogbe. “We knew Letran was comfortable with the halfcourt game, so we had to push the ball all the time.”

The scores:

First Game

PERPETUAL HELP 80—Baloria 28, Omorogbe 25, Alano 12, Elopre 5, Bantayan 4, Dizon 3, Jolangcob 3, Oliveria 0, Thompson 0, Arboleda 0, Paulino 0, Bitoy 0.

LETRAN 66—Almazan 15, Racal 10, Ruaya 9, Tambeling 7, Castro 6, Cruz 6, Nambatac 5, Gabawan 3, Luib 2, Buenaflor 2, Belorio 1.

Quarters: 31-9, 49-28, 69-49, 80-66

Second Game

JRU 61—Pontejos 16, Mabulac 14, dela Paz 11, Balagtas 6, Lasquety 5, Juanco 4, Salaveria 2, Grospe 2, Sanchez 1, Paniamogan 0.

LYCEUM 49—Mbomiko 13, Taladua 12, Lacastesantos 9, Lesmoras 6, Mendoza 4, Evangelista 3, Alanes 2, Azores 0, Baltazar 0, Soliman 0, Garcia 0, Ko 0.

Quarters: 18-13, 31-22, 15-12, 61-49

Sam Miguel
08-27-2013, 08:23 AM
Altas survive Blazers in OT

By Cedelf P. Tupas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:52 pm | Monday, August 26th, 2013

Perpetual Help had an answer to every shot that St. Benilde nailed in an overtime to remember, hacking out a thrilling 90-89 triumph last night to gain a share of second spot in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

Juneric Baloria and Nosa Omorogbe delivered 25 and 22 points, respectively, but it was Chris Elopre who fired the decisive basket with 15 seconds left in overtime that lifted the Altas to a 7-2 record, in a tie with idle San Beda.

The Blazers again fell short in another tight game, losing for the sixth time in nine outings, although Jonathan Grey and Mark Romero did their part in pushing the Altas to the limit with explosive performances with 29 and 25 points, respectively.

The Lyceum Pirates earlier survived a fourth-quarter slump to repulse the San Sebastian Stags, 60-55, and snap a five-game losing slide and end the first round with a 3-6 record.

The Pirates entered the final period with a 58-33 lead but were held to a season-low two points before pinning a fourth loss in nine games on the Stags.

“It felt like the other team was winning by the end of the game,” said Lyceum coach Bonnie Tan, whose team won for the first time since July 6, when it dumped Mapua, 74-59.

Almost lost in the din of the bizarre ending was the 19-point explosion of Wilson Baltazar, Lyceum’s struggling shooter, who found his range with a 5-of-11 clip from beyond the arc.

Baltazar did the damage in the middle quarters, helping the Pirates erect a 27-point buffer at 58-31 near the end of the third period.

The scores:

First Game

LYCEUM 60—Baltazar 19, Lacastesantos 12, Taladua 9, Mendoza 6, Mbomiko 4, Alanes 3, Evangelista 2, Ambohot 2, Ko 2, Garcia 1, Soliman 0, Lesmoras 0.

SAN SEBASTIAN 55—Perez 16, Ortuoste 9, Guinto 8, Dela Cruz 7, Tano 6, De Vera 5, Gusi 2, Trinidad 2, Rebollos 0, Vergara 0, Aquino 0, Magno 0.

Quarters: 18-4, 36-21, 58-33, 60-55

Second Game

PERPETUAL 90—Baloria 25, Omorogbe 22, Arboleda 19, Alano 19, Elopre 4, Oliveria 1, Dizon 0, Thompson 0, Bantayan 0, Paulino 0, Jolangcob 0, Bitoy 0.

ST. BENILDE 89—Grey 29, Romero 25, Taha 14, Saavedra 9, Bartolo 8, Jonson 3, Ongteco 1, Sinco 0, Argamino 0, Garcia 0, Deles 0.
Quarters: 24-13, 45-42, 60-62, 80-80, 90-89 (OT)

Sam Miguel
08-27-2013, 08:27 AM
Elopre layup lifts Altas over Blazers in OT

By Mark Giongco

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:27 pm | Monday, August 26th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – Chris Elopre scored the game-winning layup as Perpetual Help became the latest team to deal College of St. Benilde another heartbreaking loss 90-89 in overtime Monday night in the NCAA Season 89 at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

Elopre only had four points but all of it came in the extra session including a lay in with 14.7 ticks left as the Altas chalked up their seventh win in nine starts.

“Masarap yung feeling pero mabigat din sa dibdib kasi ang laki ng lamang namin tapos humabol. Buti na lang yung mga players ko matibay yung loob,” said Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario, whose team blew a 16-point lead, 39-23, late in the second quarter.

“Yung tira ko, hindi ako yon, si God yon,” said the graduating guard Elopre, who opened up the extra period with a basket, 82-80.

The Altas trailed by four in the final 1:16 of regulation after back-to-back triples by Mark Romero. They trailed again, 88-89, after an undergoal stab by Paolo Taha with 36.4 seconds remaining.

But on both times, Perpetual Help managed to respond.

Juneric Baloria had 25 points, including a basket to cut CSB’s lead down to two, 80-78. Justine Alano added 19, two of which tied the game at 80, with 44 ticks to go.

Nosa Omorogbe also gave St. Benilde problems with 22 points and 12 rebounds.

The Blazers started flat before getting their groove with Jonathan Grey exploding for 23 points in the first half, 21 in the second quarter alone to lead a 19-6 run to close the first half.

Grey, who finished with 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, cooled off in the second half but Mark Romero took over from there.

Romero scored all of his 25 points in the second half and overtime including his fourth triple that made it, 83-82, with 4:00 left in OT.

Romero though, missed an open trey from the left wing with 5.5 seconds left before Luis Cinco threw the ball away off the inbound pass as time ran out.

Harold Arboleda also produced quite a performance for Perpetual Help with 19 points and 16 rebounds.

The Blazers slid to 3-6 after winning three in a row with all of their losses just two points or less.

Sam Miguel
09-03-2013, 02:00 PM
Altas nose out Chiefs, tie Lions

By Cedelf P. Tupas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:33 pm | Monday, September 2nd, 2013

It was Harold Arboleda’s turn to shine for Perpetual Help last night.

Arboleda knocked in two pressure-packed free throws with 6.8 seconds remaining as the Altas nipped the Arellano Chiefs, 82-80, and tied the idle defending champion San Beda Red Lions for second place in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

Arellano actually had a chance to forge overtime with 1.8 seconds left, but AJ Serjue missed the front end of his two foul shots. He intentionally missed his second free throw hoping to turn the rebound into a followup basket, but the ball went out of bounds.

Arboleda was fouled by Ralph Salcedo while going for an offensive rebound, then nailed both attempts as the Altas rose to 8-2 like San Beda.

Arellano lost for the sixth time in its last seven games and fell into a share of eighth spot with Lyceum with a 3-7 card.

St. Benilde also hacked out a close 57-55 decision over Jose Rizal in the second game and improved to 4-6. The Bombers took their fifth loss in 10 games.

Playing in the shadows of more explosive teammates like Nosa Omorogbe and Juneric Baloria, Arboleda proved his worth for the Altas by norming 12.4 rebounds an outing in the first round.

“I’m so happy for him (Arboleda) because he’s done almost everything for us and now he’s also helped us with his offense,” said Omorogbe, who topscored for the Altas with 26 points and also grabbed 12 boards.

The game was close throughout with no team leading by more than eight points and both teams battling to eight lead changes.

“We need these close games because we learn a lot from them,” said Altas coach Aric Del Rosario. “We know we’re going to need the experience when we go farther in the tournament.”

The Altas also got a lift from Scott Thompson who bucked a hurting back to tally 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

Keith Agovida poured 15 of his season-high 17 points in the second half to lead the Chiefs, who missed forward James Forrester.

The scores:

First Game

PERPETUAL HELP 82—Omorogbe 26, Baloria 14, Thompson 11, Arboleda 9, Alano 9, Jolangcob 6m Elopre 3, Dizon 2, Bitoy 2, Oliveria 0, Ylagan 0, Bantayan 0, Lucente 0.

ARELLANO 80—Agovida 17, Hernandez 16, Caperal 14, Pinto 12, Nicholls 5, Salcedo 4, Bangga 4, Serjue 4, Jalalon 3, Gumaru 1, Cadavis 0.

Quarters: 21-19, 40-39, 59-53, 82-80

Second Game

ST. BENILDE 57—Romero 15, Bartolo 8, Garcia 8, Grey 8, Taha 7, Argamino 6, Sinco 2, Deles 2, Ongteco 1.

JRU 55—Paniamogan 19, Mabulac 11, Balagtas 8, Lasquety 6, Grospe 5, Benavides 4, Sanchez 2, Pontejos 0, Juanico 0, Dela Paz 0, Diego 0.

Quarters: 8-13, 23-27, 41-41, 57-55

09-09-2013, 10:42 AM
Generals keep Final Four hopes burning with upset win over Altas

Karlo Sacamos

September 07, 2013, 08:25 pm

EMILIO Aguinaldo College went fishing and waited for something to fall for the bait. Its patience and perseverance were later rewarded Saturday night.

The Generals rallied from a sizeable deficit before coming through in the endgame and stunned complacent University of Perpetual Help, 70-68, to keep its Final Four hopes burning in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.

Jan Jamon registered his best offensive game of the season, but it was Cedric Happi and John Tayongtong who delivered the key baskets down the stretch for the Generals, who won for the fourth time in five games and improved to a 5-6 win-loss card to move into a tie with the day’s earlier winner, College of St. Benilde in sixth place.

The Generals, now just a half-game behind Jose Rizal University and San Sebastian for the last Final Four spot, also dealt the Altas just their third loss in 11 games that dropped them to solo third spot instead of gaining a piece of the lead with Letran.

“(We caught a) very big fish,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said. “We just kept the game close and gave us a chance to win. At yun ang nangyari, napunta sa amin ang momentum.”

“Simula na ng race kung sino gusto pumasok sa top four spots,” said Jamon, who tallied 22 points, most of them coming from mid-range.

The Altas protected a 10-point lead late in third quarter, before the Generals mounted a fightback that saw them slowly chew off the Altas lead.

Happi, the Cameroonian slotman who was still recovering from LBM (loose bowel movement) the past few days, tallied just 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting, but made up for it on the other end by shackling Altas’ counterpart in Nigerian Nicholas Omorogbe, who was limited to just nine points on 4-of-17 shooting.

“We were able to contain one of their top two scorers,” Esplana said as Altas rookie Juneric Baloria still emerged two points away from reaching the 30-point barrier anew before fouling out in the crucial stage of the game.

Happi gave the Generals the lead for good at 64-63, before Jamon scored on a jumper, Tayongtong made crucial free throws and an assist to turn the game around.

The scores

Emilio Aguinaldo (70) -- Jamon 22, Happi 11, Paguia 9, King 8, Tayongtong 8, Onwubere 7, Hiole Manga 2, Munsayac 2, Arquero 1, Monteclaro 0, Castro 0, Morada 0.

Perpetual Help (68) -- Baloria 28, Arboleda 14, Alano 10, Omorogbe 9, Elopre 4, Jolangcob 3, Oliveria 0, Dizon 0, Thompson 0, Bantayan 0, Paulino 0, Bitoy 0.

Quarterscores: 16-14; 28-36; 47-51; 70-68.

Sam Miguel
09-13-2013, 09:16 AM
Altas turn back pesky Blazers

By Cedelf P. Tupas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:39 pm | Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Perpetual Help survived St. Benilde’s late onslaught and escaped with a 68-64 triumph last night to stay within striking distance of the leaders in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

Rookie Juneric Baloria and Scott Thompson buried clutch free throws inside the last 35 seconds as the Altas nailed their ninth win in 12 games and firmed up their hold of third spot.

The Altas nearly wasted a nine-point lead as the Blazers mounted a searing rally capped by a Mark Romero triple that tied the game at 64 heading into the final 51 seconds.

The ending followed a familiar script for the Blazers, who again lost a game decided in the final seconds and dropped to seventh spot with a 5-7 card. St. Benilde has lost seven games by a combined 11 points.

In the first game, John Pinto knocked in a fadeaway jumper with 1.7 seconds left to lift Arellano to a thrilling 76-75 win over Lyceum.

Pinto’s shot over the outstretched arms of Jeremiah Taladua capped a sensational fightback by the Chiefs, who erased a seven-point deficit in the last 2:50 and notched only their fourth victory in 12 games.

Prince Caperal also came up with a monster performance for the Chiefs, finishing with 25 points and 16 rebounds.

Pinto shone in the final period where he fired 11 of his 15 points.

“It was a miracle shot,” Pinto said. “The play was for Prince, but they (Pirates) sagged on him, so I had to create my own shot.”

The scores:

First Game

ARELLANO 76—Caperal 25, Pinto 15, Agovida 11, Salcedo 8, Forrester 8, Hernandez 5, Margallo 4, Gumaru 0, Jalalon 0, Nicholls 0, Bangga 0, Serjue 0, Cadavis 0.

LYCEUM 75—Mbomiko 17, Zamora 15, Ko 15, Baltazar 6, Francisco 6, Ambohot 6, Lesmoras 4, Lacastesantos 3, Azores 2, Mendoza 1.

Quarters: 15-14, 31-31, 55-55, 76-75

Second Game

PERPETUAL 68—Baloria 18, Arboleda 15, Omorogbe 14, Alano 11, Thompson 6, Ylagan 2, Elopre 2, Oliveria 0, Dizon 0, Jolangcob 0.

ST. BENILDE 64—Taha 17, Romero 12, Bartolo 11, Garcia 7, Saavedra 5, Argamino 5, Grey 5, Ongteco 2.

Quarters: 21-12, 30-28, 52-50, 68-64

Sam Miguel
09-17-2013, 02:35 PM
Arboleda, Baloria shine anew as Altas stay within striking distance of leaders

From: Karlo Sacamos

September 16, 2013, 08:17 pm

HAROLD Arboleda overshadowed Juneric Baloria with his clutch plays to lift University of Perpetual Help to a 64-61 victory over gritty Jose Rizal University on Monday at The Arena in San Juan to keep in step with the leaders of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Baloria, the league’s top Rookie of the Year candidate, displayed another sizzling offensive show by topscoring for 32 points, but it was Arboleda who delivered the key baskets down the stretch for the Altas, who notched a 10th victory in 13 games, just a half-game behind San Beda and Letran.

Arboleda, the team’s skipper, scored six points in the payoff period, where the Altas regained a cushion and proved steadier against the Bombers, who reeled to a fourth straight loss and seventh overall against five wins.

“Siya talaga ang leader ng team,” Altas coach Aric del Rosario said of Arboleda, the unassuming fourth-year forward who has emerged as a surprise MVP candidate in the first part of the season.

Arboleda finished with a double-double of 11 boards that went with three steals, two blocks, and two assists.

The Bombers dug out of a huge 16-point hole and took the lead, the last at 55-53 on a Philip Paniamogan triple, before Baloria completed a three-point play -- where all his points in the fourth quarter came -- and Arboleda took over.

“Ito talaga ang pinapangarap kong team, yung hanggang sa huli, hindi bumibitiw,” Del Rosario said.

Baloria did most of his damage in the first three quarters, where the pride of Lanao del Norte exploded for 29 points.

His monster effort spoiled a similar showing by Michael Mabulac, who pumped in a career-high 28 points and missed a 20-20 output with a single rebound, while leading the Bombers’ huge fightback.

The scores

Perpetual Help (64) -- Baloria 32, Arboleda 13, Omorogbe 10, Alano 5, Dizon 2, Oliveria 0, Thompson 0, Ylagan 0, Bantayan 0, Elopre 0, Jolangcob 0.

Jose Rizal (61) -- Mabulac 28, Paniamogan 11, Dela Paz 7, Juanico 5, Lasquety 4, Salaveria 4, Balagtas 2, Pontejos 0, Gozum 0, Sanchez 0.

Quarterscores: 19-12; 37-28; 46-48; 64-61.

Sam Miguel
09-20-2013, 02:21 PM
Is Baloria overaged? Altas coach finally addresses rumors about rookie's eligibility

From: Karlo Sacamos

September 20, 2013, 02:09 pm

UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario finally addressed widespread rumors that his prized rookie Juneric Baloria is overaged and therefore ineligible for the ongoing NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Rumors have long circulated that the Altas freshman is over the league's age limit of 24 and the talk became more intense on Thursday on social networking sites, especially on Twitter.

However, the veteran del Rosario was quick to defend Baloria, saying there is no truth to the rumors which he said were likely meant to distract Baloria as the Altas march into the Final Four.

“Hindi totoo yun, baka tinatanggalan lang si Baloria sa focus,” said del Rosario, who was at The Arena in San Juan on Thursday for scouting duties.

Baloria, whose listed birthdate is June 3, 1990 that makes him 23 and therefore eligible to play in the league until next year, happens to be the league’s top Rookie of the Year candidate.

He leads the NCAA in scoring with 21.8 points per game for a Perpetual Help side that is running third in the 10-team standings.

“Two years ko nang kasama yan. Walang problema sa kanya,” del Rosario said, adding he has yet to receive a complaint from anyone.

Management committee chairman Dax Castellano has also confirmed del Rosario's statement that no formal complaint has been filed over Baloria's eligibility.

Sam Miguel
09-20-2013, 02:23 PM
^^^ Why is it everytime a newcomer is playing well in the NCAA people here always assume it is because he is over the age limit?

For godsakes, if you've got the goods on these guys then bring it out and charge them with fraud, so it serves as a warning to others who would try to pull the same stunt.

Otherwise just running your mouths off about it is just that, running off your mouths.

Sam Miguel
09-27-2013, 10:37 AM
Lions prey on Altas, secure first semis slot

By Joey Villar

(The Philippine Star) | Updated September 27, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - San Beda blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter of regulation but hung tough enough in overtime to escape with a 78-76 victory over a stubborn Perpetual Help to clinch the first Final Four berth in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City last night.

Rome dela Rosa found an open Arthur dela Cruz for the go-ahead basket with 12.1 seconds and Perpetual Help’s Juneric Baloria missed a potential game-winning triple on the other end, enabling the Red Lions to escape with the victory and hold on to the solo lead with a 12-2 (win-loss) record.

Interestingly, it was the second game-winning play by the same two players, Dela Rosa and dela Cruz, after the duo made the game-winning play in a 71-70 squeaker over St. Benilde in the league opener last June 22.

“Credit that to the player for playing tough in the end,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez.

Nigerian Nosa Omorogbe led the Altas with 23 points including a clutch triple late in regulation that helped force the overtime.

Perpetual Help fell to its fourth setback against 11 wins.

Earlier, Jose Morada sizzled in the early going then Jolas Paguia took over in the stretch as Emilio Aguinaldo College turned back Lyceum, 71-63, to stay in the Final Four hunt.

Morada unleashed a 19-point explosion he laced with a game-high four triples, steering the Generals to a double-digit lead in the first half before the burly Paguia went on a free throw shooting spree in the second half to parry a late fightback by the Pirates.

The win evened EAC’s record to 7-7, moving just one and a half games behind the fourth-running San Sebastian (8-5).

“The most important thing is that we all know we still have a chance to get that last berth in the Final Four,” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana.

The Generals, who peppered the Letran Knights with 11 triples in a shock 87-64 rout last week, hit seven of the 20 shots from the long range against the Pirates.

Cameroonian Noube Happi also put in a double-double job for EAC, scoring 13 points and hauling down 10 rebounds while Jan Jamon chipped in 14 points, including a pair of three-pointers.

“We want to run but I keep telling the players if there’s no chance, don’t rush it and we’re committing less mistakes when we do that,” said Esplana.

10-01-2013, 09:45 AM
Pirates ambush Altas; Lions in final four

by Christian Jacinto

September 30, 2013 (updated)

For the second straight game, San Beda showed great resolve down the stretch and pulled off a 72-68 victory over San Sebastian even as Lyceum claimed another big fish in the NCAA Season 89 last night at The Arena in San Juan.

Down by 15 points heading into the fourth and last quarter, the Red Lions stormed back into the contest – big thanks to the stellar plays from veterans Ola Adeogon and Rome dela Rosa – that saw the defending champions cut the deficit down to two, 63-61, with 4:28 left in the game.

The Red Lions then took the lead for good, 69-68 following a Dela Rosa basket off an Art dela Cruz assist.

San Sebastian had one big chance to turn the game around but blew it away with a costly turnover paving the way for San Beda’s Baser Amer and Adeogon to nail key free throws that completed their remarkable comeback.

“I just told them if you can make stops we can win this. We made stops, the effort of the players was there, I’m just thankful to them,” coach Boyet Fernandez said.

Adeogon led the Red Lions with 26 points and 17 rebounds while dela Rosa added 18 points for his squad which claimed the first Final Four berth after improving to a league best 13-2.

The win likewise extended their win streak to six. The Stags fell to 8-6.

The day, however, belonged to Lyceum.

With their upset axe swinging again, the Pirates brought down third running University of Perpetual Help, 84-61, and revived their faltering Final Four bid.

The win enabled Lyceum to become the only team in the tournament to beat all the heavyweights, having beaten defending champion San Beda in the first round then second running Letran two weeks ago.

Significantly, Lyceum avoided early elimination as it improved to 5-10.

If they can sweep their remaining three games and San Sebastian (8-5) and Emilio Aguinaldo College (7-7) lose all their remaining matches, they can earn a shot for a playoff for the fourth and final slot in the semis.

Sam Miguel
10-22-2013, 09:34 AM
Ortuoste once again gets better of Baloria in battle of top NCAA rookies

From: Karlo Sacamos

October 20, 2013, 04:01 pm

AS the final buzzer sounded, Jamil Ortuoste shook hands with the first opponent he found — and it turned out to be fellow rookie sensation Juneric Baloria.

It signaled the end of another matchup between two of the top freshmen in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that once again lived up to expectations on Saturday night.

Again, it was San Sebastian’s Ortuoste who got the better of Rookie of the Year award frontrunner Baloria and University of Perpetual Help, not only statistically, but also as a team as the Golden Stags emerged the victor with a 71-65 decision at The Arena in San Juan.

The 21-year-old Ortuoste almost singlehandedly rallied the Stags from a late deficit, scoring his team’s last eight points in the final two minutes, including a contested three-pointer from way beyond rainbow territory that sent the San Sebastian gallery into a frenzy.

The Stags thus swept their elimination-round head-to-head matchup with the Altas, having also eked out a thrilling 78-77 overtime win in the first round.

Ortuoste, who finished with 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting, four rebounds, and one assist in 30 minutes, played down his own matchup with Baloria, who wound up 16 points but missed 14 of 19 shots from the field in 37 minutes of play. He did have seven rebounds and two blocks.

“Hindi namin iniisip yung (individual) matchup namin. Ang preparation namin is for the team, kung paano kami mananalo as a team, hindi sa isa o dalawang player lang,” he said.

The pride of Antipolo still believes the Rookie of the Year award is for the 23-year-old Baloria to lose.

“Magaling si Juneric. Pareho lang namin ginagawa yung role namin sa team,” Ortuoste said. “Hindi ko iniisip makakuha ng individual na award. Hindi ko din alam na may chance pala ako dun.”

Unlike in the UAAP, where only greenhorns straight from high school are eligible to win the ROY award, the NCAA hands out the top individual rookie plum to any league newcomer.

“Ma-achieve lang namin yung Final Four, yun na ang greatest achievement ko this year,” said Ortuoste, whose team (10-7) can clinch the last semifinal berth outright with a win in their last game. “Kung ano man dumating sa akin, blessing yun from God.”

Sam Miguel
10-22-2013, 09:35 AM
Better to lose now than in Final Four, says Altas coach Del Rosario after resting injured Omorogbe

From: Karlo Sacamos

October 20, 2013, 01:02 pm

UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help definitely missed the presence of Nicholas Omorogbe in the Altas’ 65-71 loss to San Sebastian on Saturday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Without the versatile Nigerian forward, out with a recurring right-knee injury, the Altas suffered a fourth straight loss and seventh overall against 11 wins.

Once flirting with the top spot after compiling a 7-2 record at the end of the first round, the Altas, although already secured of a semifinal berth, are now in danger of ending up in fourth spot if the fourth-running Stags (10-7) win their last game.

Altas coach Aric del Rosario said it was better to lose now than in the semifinals, when Omorogbe is expected to return.

“Pag dating sa Final Four, hindi ka na pwede matalo dun. Sabi ko wag muna nating pwersahin yan para maging ready siya sa Final Four.”

Del Rosario said the import aggravated his injury in the team’s 76-78 overtime loss to San Beda – which started the Altas’ losing streak -- last September 26 when he played 41 minutes, and finished with 23 points (7-of-24 shooting), 12 boards, four assists, four steals, two blocks, and seven turnovers.

As a result, Omorogbe, one of the league leaders in minutes played per game, suited up for just 14 minutes and scored nine points in the Altas’ shock 61-84 loss to Lyceum four days later.

His playing time continued to drop in Perpetual Help’s 61-74 defeat at the hands of Letran last October 10 when he played just six minutes and scored two points.

“I think ang ginagawa ng Perpetual they’re also psyching themselves for the Final Four, so maybe it’s part of their game plan to get other players involved and rest Omorogbe,” Letran coach Caloy Garcia said after the Knights’ win versus Perpetual Help.

Del Rosario finally decided to rest Omorogbe in the Altas’ latest loss, but refused to say it was a strategy.

“Hindi. Gusto ko nga manalo dito, kaya lang ayaw ko ma-aggravate `yung injury niya.”

Skipper Harold Arboleda was forced to take more of the scoring load in the absence of Omorogbe, tallying a team-high 23 points on 14 attempts, on top of seven rebounds and one assist in 31 minutes.

“Nag-take advantage lang ako na wala si Omorogbe, pero ginagawa ko pa rin naman yung depensa,” Arboleda said.

Sam Miguel
10-30-2013, 08:08 AM
Stags clinch third seeding

Scuttle pesky Altas in playoff

By Cedelf P. Tupas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:50 pm | Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

SAN SEBASTIAN found an unlikely spark in seldom-used guard Gio Vergara in the final period as the Stags overcame the Perpetual Help Altas, 81-71, last night to claim the No. 3 seed in the Final Four of the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

CJ Perez pumped in 20 points, but it was Vergara who hit the biggest shots in the last four minutes as the Stags forged a Final Four duel with No. 2 Letran on Nov. 7.

The 5-foot-7 Vergara, one of 11 rookies in San Sebastian’s lineup, knocked in two triples in the fourth quarter, the last beating the shotclock to shove the Stags ahead, 70-68, with 2:34 remaining.

Harold Arboleda responded with a trey for 71-70, but that proved to be the Altas’ last stand, as Jovit dela Cruz and Perez finished off Perpetual Help with key free throws.

It was the fifth straight loss for the Altas, who will now face defending champion San Beda in a rematch of last year’s Final Four meeting. Both San Beda and Letran will have a twice-to-beat edge in the Final Four.

“It was all about getting that winning mentality,” said Vergara. “We didn’t really care who were going to play in the Final Four.”

“As much as we want to celebrate, we need to improve more because we will be up against elite teams in the league now,” said San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson, who has been instilling an underdog mentality in his squad.

The Stags led by as many as 13 points at 45-32 in the third quarter as the Altas, who were not able to practice together over the weekend as some of the players went home to their provinces to vote in the barangay elections, looked out of sorts offensively.

Perpetual Help shot a total of 32 triples and made just six.

But the Altas came alive in the fourth quarter with Joel Jolangcob and Early Thompson sparking the turnaround.

Perpetual Help gunner Juneric Baloria missed all his 11 shots in 18 minutes on the floor. Harold Arboleda, an MVP candidate, also struggled with three points on 1-of-6 shooting.

The scores:

SAN SEBASTIAN 81—Perez 20, Guinto 15, Dela Cruz 14, Ortuoste 11, Vergara 10, De Vera 4, Aquino 3, Balucanag 2, Tano 2, Rebollos 0, Gusi 0, Trinidad 0.

PERPETUAL HELP 71—Omorogbe 21, Alano 14, Thompson 13, Jolangcob 8, Oliveria 4, Ylagan 4, Arboleda 3, Elopre 2, Baloria 2, Dizon 0, Bantayan 0, Lucente 0.

Quarters: 14-14, 36-32, 55-46, 81-71

Sam Miguel
10-30-2013, 08:10 AM
Altas’ Baloria blames missing practice for woeful game vs Stags

By Mark Giongco


9:15 pm | Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – Perpetual Help swingman Juneric Baloria reached out a helping hand to his father, the incumbent barangay (village) captain in Lanao del Norte in Mindanao, who ran for a final term in the barangay elections last Monday.

Baloria’s dad, though, lost and fell short by 23 votes and adding insult to injury, the explosive scorer was out of tune Tuesday night as the Altas yielded the no.3 spot to the San Sebastian Stags in the NCAA Season 89 men’s basketball tournament.

“I wasn’t able to practice with the team for two days (Saturday and Sunday) because I had to help my dad who ran for barangay captain in his last term,” said Baloria in Filipino after scoring just two points – missing all of his 11 shots in 18 minutes – in easily his worst game of the season.

“Coach didn’t want me to go but I begged him to give me permission and help my dad. I played a bad game and coach was really mad,” Baloria admitted.

The five-foot-11 rookie wouldn’t want to promise a better game but vowed to do everything to get his lethal form back especially with the skidding Altas heading into the Final Four with defending champion San Beda in the way.

“I know I have to do extra work to get my form back,” he said.

Sam Miguel
11-08-2013, 08:14 AM
Lions, Knights forge rematch in NCAA finals

By Marc Anthony Reyes

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:43 pm | Thursday, November 7th, 2013

The season is getting way too long and San Beda and Letran decided to rush things up a little bit.

The long-time rivals disposed of their respective Final Four opponents yesterday and forged a title showdown for the 89th NCAA basketball championship for the second straight year.

The four-peat seeking Red Lions struck hardest in the fourth quarter to oust the Perpetual Help Altas, 70-51, while the Knights swept past the San Sebastian Stags, 85-58, at Mall of Asia Arena.

The league had already scheduled a possible rubber match tomorrow but the Lions, the top semifinalist, and the Knights, the No. 2 qualifier, were bent on cutting short a season that several postponements have extended for at least four weeks.

Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series is on Monday.

The Lions benched Ryusei Koga, who was accused of breaking rules by playing in another league during the season, but the absence of the 5-foot-7 guard, who averaged six points per game, hardly mattered as San Beda pulled away in the fourth to seal another crack at a league-best 18th title.

Earlier, Letran booked its second straight finals appearance by dominating San Sebastian behind yet another MVP-like performance of PBA-bound Raymond Almazan, who fell just one block short of a triple double feat.

The 6-foot-7 Almazan, drafted third overall by Rain or Shine, posted 19 points, 23 rebounds and nine blocks.

“I’m not thinking of winning any award. If we don’t win the title, everything will be useless,” said Almazan, 24, in Filipino.

The scores:

First Game

LETRAN 85—Cruz 19, Almazan 19, Racal 16, Nambatac 13, Tambeling 7, Olotu 3, Castro 2, Po 2, Ruaya 2, Luib 2, Belorio 0, Gabawan 10, Publico 0.

SAN SEBASTIAN 58—Perez 11, Dela Cruz 10, De Vera 10, Ortuoste 10, Huinto 8, Aquino 4, Rebollos 3, Vergara 2, Balucanag 0, Gusi 0, Padilla 0, Trinidad 0, Balid 0, Tano 0, Magno 0.

Quarters: 17-10, 32-27, 57-44, 85-58

Second Game

SAN BEDA 70—Adeogun 11, Dela Cruz 11, Sara 9, Dela Rosa 9, Amer 8, D. Semerad 7, Pascual 6, Ludovice 4, Abarcar 3, A. Semerad 2, Mendoza 0, Bonsubre 0.

PERPETUAL 51—Alano 12, Omorogbe 7, Jolangcob 7, Arboleda 6, Paulino 6, Baloria 6, Oliveria 4, Elopre 3, Thomson 0, Ylagan 0, Bantayan 0, Bitoy 0.

Quarters: 11-9, 21-25, 38-37, 70-51