(Filoil EcoOil Centre)
12 p.m. — SSC-R vs AU
3 p.m. — San Beda vs EAC
UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help has high hopes it could gain a crack at claiming its breakthrough NCAA basketball championship this season.
Drawing strength from this optimism, the Altas overpowered the Jose Rizal Bombers, 84-60, in a Season 98 elimination round game at the Filoil EcoOil Centre that launched their ambitious campaign.
It took the Las Piñas-based school a strong second half offensive to put away a pesky JRU side, claim its first triumph and a share of the lead with opening day winners Mapua and Arellano U, and set in motion its bid of making the finals for the first time since advancing that far 18 years ago.
But as fate would have it, former member Philippine Christian U spoiled the party and claimed the title itself.
“One step at a time,” said UPHSD coach Myk Saguiguit.
Rey Barcuma came out of nowhere and dropped a career-high 22 points, including 16 in the second half when the Altas turned a slim 37-36 edge into a slam bang blow out.
And the 22-year-old Bukidnon-born point guard played like it was his lucky day and made all but one — a three-pointer — of the 11 shots he took while adding four steals and an assist while not turning the ball even once.
Never mind that he missed his two free throws.
What Mr. Barcuma did was inject life into UPHSD, which appeared sluggish early on and even trailed JRU by nine points at one point in the opening quarter.
He outshone the starters headed by Jelo Razon and Mark Omega, who wound up with 13 points apiece.
Kim Aurin, considered the team’s top player after averaging nearly in triple-double three years ago or before the pandemic, continued his downward spiral and ended up with just seven points.
Good thing there was Barcuma. — Joey Villar
UPHSD 84- Barcuma 22, Razon 13, Omega 13, Aurin 7, Roque 5, Ferreras 5, Abis 4, Nitura 4, Egan 2, Boral 2, Martel 2, Nunez 2, Flores 2, Orgo 1, Cuevas 0
JRU 60- Medina 15, Guiab 9, Arenal 6, Sy 5, Delos Santos 4, Miranda 4, De Jesus 4, Dela Rosa 3, Dionisio 3, Villarin 3, Amores 2, Celis 2, Joson 0, Abaoag 0, Gonzales 0, Tan 0, Famaranco 0
Quarterscores: 12-21; 37-36; 65-51; 84-60